Out of the Darkness

January 22, 2010

PanelOn Thursday, Rollins hosted “The Truth about Suicide: Real Stories about Depression in College,” presented by Psi Chi and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

This informational event began with a short documentary film presenting testimony from survivors and those who have lost loved ones to suicide. The panel discussion that followed included members of the Rollins Counseling and Psychological Services and the Central Florida chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The statistics are startling: suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in Florida and the second leading cause for college students. Every 16 minutes a suicide is committed and it is estimated that there is an attempt every 39 seconds. If one million deaths annually across the globe are attributed to suicide, why doesn’t the issue receive more attention? 

It cannot be denied that the subject is a sensitive one.  Homicide and AIDS combined take fewer lives on a yearly basis, but they are well known crises. Physical diseases are viewed differently than mental illnesses and as a result they are received differently by the public. Many cases of suicidal feelings can be linked to depression, a treatable illness with an 80 percent recovery rate, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. However, two out of three students with depression do not seek help.

According to the panel, everyone can do their part in preventing the tragic loss of friends and loved ones if they stay alert. Potential indications may include radical behavior changes, giving away personal possessions, or a preoccupation with dying, among other warning signs.  Education is a key to prevention and knowing what to do is vital. If there are red flags don’t wait, talk and ask questions. Make sure that professional help is available. In emergency situations, do not leave anyone with suicidal intentions alone and contact 911 if necessary.)

On February 6 at 8 a.m., the Third Annual 5k Walk Around Lake Baldwin will take place. This walk is part of Out of the Darkness Community Walks held by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. For more information about registration or donations visit www.outofthedarkness.org  or email vlong@rollins.edu .  To learn more about your local AFSP Chapter go to www.afsp.org/cfl.

- Jennifer Ritter (Class of 2013)

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