By MATTHEW DIXON
MU is staging its First Annual Suicide prevention week to call attention to an issue that may not be widespread on campus but still affects college students here and nationwide.
The event Nov. 6-12 follows media attention on a few high profile cases across college campuses, including incidents at the University of Texas and at Rutgers.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among all college students in the nation, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center in Newton, Mass. A 2009 study by the MU Wellness Resource Center found that 15.6 percent of students at MU thought about suicide during the past year.
Prevention week has been partially organized by Kelly Sheline, the suicide prevention graduate assistant at the wellness center. She said the university has provided some services but nothing reaching the entire student body.
“There have been kind of a few awareness events but really none that generated any press or attention and certainly not anything that a lot of students attended,” Sheline said. “There was never a better time to make suicide prevention a part of the conversation at MU”
The week has five separate events, all aimed at trying to raise awareness about suicide prevention around the campus.
- 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Nov. 6: The Stomp Out Stigma 5K run at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.
- 8-9:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8: A presentation by Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas titled “Be a Shining Light of Hope” in Stotler Lounge.
- 7-9:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 9: Screening of the movie, “The Bridge,” in Chamber Auditorium, Center for Student Involvement.
- 11 .m.-1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 10: An event titled “The Arts Unmasked” in Stotler Lounge. Participants will be given the opportunity to create a mask and celebrate unmasking the stigma of mental illness.
- 2-3 p.m., 3-4 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, and noon-1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12: Question, persuade and refer training session to teach participants how to talk to someone who is having suicidal thoughts. Wednesday sessions in the Gus T. Ridgel Room, Memorial Union South 204; Friday sessions in the Eyler Family Room, Memorial Union South 110.
“I’d say that the goal of the whole week is to raise awareness about the problem of college suicide since most people are not aware that it is such a huge issue and also to encourage those may be suffering from mental health issues or suicidal thoughts to really seek help” Sheline said.
More information about these events can be found at MU student involvement website.