Sept. 10-16 was National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week, a week devoted to shedding light on a topic that is not talked about as much as it should be.
Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States and the 2nd-leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 24. With these numbers, the question remains—why are we not talking about this, especially in college?
Chris Donevant-Haines, the assistant director of Wellness Outreach at Coastal Carolina, gave her thoughts on why we are not talking about this when we really should be.
“I think there are several reasons as to why it is not discussed,” said Donevant-Haines. “However, one of the big reasons is the stigma attached to mental health. People associate the word mental health with crazy and not that is as normal as it really is.”
According to statistics by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP), sixty percent of people who die by suicide have major depressive disorder. While the statistics given are quite alarming, many suicide attempts go unnoticed and unreported due to the stigma and AFSP believes that these numbers are unfortunately higher than what is reported.
In order for more people to feel comfortable about the topic, there have been several events created around the nation and here on Coastal’s campus to bring light to the topic.
Coastal Carolina has participated in the “Out of the Darkness" walks for the past three years and will be holding another walk this spring.
The "Out of the Darkness" campus walks are the AFSP’s signature student-fundraising series, designed to engage youth and young adults in the fight to prevent suicide.
Last year, Coastal Carolina students set a goal to raise $6,000 and exceeded that goal by raising $10,000.
During these walks, there are several speakers, some of them being victims of suicide, that talk with students and faculty about what we can do to help raise awareness.
Victims tell their stories about dealing with suicide in hopes to inspire others and give hope to those who feel that they do not matter.
Kelsey Brooks, a junior theater education major from Danvers, Massachusetts, opened up about her battle with suicide and why she has become so open to talking about it with people.
“Why should I hide my story when it could be used to help someone,” said Brooks. “I was super-negative all the time. I would isolate myself and not want to go out and high school was a big struggle. And based on the struggle and the things people would say to me, whether it was about me as a person or my body, it just added to that struggle to where I developed body dysmorphic disorder. I would constantly be thinking about my flaws and not be happy with my true self.”
Brooks is an advocate for Suicide Prevention and Awareness and hopes her story will encourage others to be open about their struggle and seek the help that they need.
While awareness for suicide prevention may not have been a big talking point, it certainly became front and center after rapper Logic’s performance at the VMA’s on Aug. 27.
During the award show, the rapper performed his song “1-800-273-8255” with Alessia Cara and Khalid.
The title of the song just so happens to be the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and after that performance, calls to the hotline nearly doubled within 24 hours.
Donevant-Haines talked about the impact that the performance had on the topic of suicide awareness.
“To have a public figure like that come out and be so open about his struggle did so much for the cause,” said Donevant-Haines. “Not only that, the title of the song was the number for the hotline and that just made a huge impact. It is so great to start having public figures come out and talk about this.”
As someone who has struggled with suicide and who lost someone to suicide this past summer, I honestly can say that to anyone out there who feels that they do not matter or that their life is not worth living, let me say that you do matter and that someone is there for you.
Your life is important and you can always turn to a trusted friend, adult or counseling services here on campus to talk.
The number for counseling services is 843-349-2305.