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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Suicide Prevention, Awareness Month unites community

Organizations+across+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+campus+raise+awareness+and+provide+support+to+students+during+National+Suicide+Prevention+and+Awareness+month+which+occurs+throughout+the+month+of+September.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Graphic by Haylea Keith

Organizations across Texas A&M’s campus raise awareness and provide support to students during National Suicide Prevention and Awareness month which occurs throughout the month of September. 

September is nationally recognized as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, and students, student organizations and Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, are working to educate Aggieland on the realities of suicide, especially on college campuses.
Megan Bonds is a licensed professional counselor and case management referral coordinator for CAPS and has a hand in many of this month’s events through the service. Bond said she feels CAPS’ platform brings attention to mental health and related crises at Texas A&M.
“At CAPS [we] are able to have that voice and have that further impact, and so you know, the more we’re talking about suicide awareness and the importance of talking about it,” Bond said. “Pretending like it’s not a thing can have a big impact on our students here at Texas A&M.”
Bond said the statistics surrounding suicide and college students are not hopeful, but this is why the awareness is even more critical.
“We know that suicide is the second-leading cause of death in college students,” Bond said. “So, that just makes us that much more passionate about our reasons of why we need to continue raising awareness [and] providing students, faculty and staff with tools that show support [to] students and peers in need.”
Though not a professional, communication sophomore Sydnie Harrell said she feels an emphasis on mental health awareness is key for college students.
“I just think college students face so many difficulties because we’re trying to figure out everything on our own. Not only are we trying to figure out how to adult, but we’re trying to figure out how to take care of ourselves and figure out who we are as people,” Harrell said. “Having this awareness is nice because it’s the college showing, ‘Hey, we know times get tough, but we’re here, we’re trying to show we care.’”
Throughout the month, CAPS will offer its standard “Question, Persuade, Refer” trainings, as well as a variety of special events such as screenings, new therapy types and opportunities to connect with mental health professionals. Bond said these are intended to give students a better idea of the resources available to them.
“One of the big events that we’re hosting is ‘Coffee with a Counselor,’” Bond said. “What this looks like is students being able to sit down with a counselor and ask questions that they may have about what counseling looks like or talk about things like self care and wellness. Ultimately, it’s to ideally reduce some of the stigma or fears that there might be around initiating talking with a counselor.”
Though approaching a professional may be challenging, Harrell said she feels this, alongside caring for yourself can be powerful.
“Getting help … it is hard, it’s not easy to admit you’re facing any mental health issues,” Harrell said. “I feel like the most important thing I can say is prioritize yourself. It can be hard to do that in college because you’re trying to make new friendships and you’re trying to prioritize your schoolwork and trying to figure out where you belong in the world. But just take care of yourself first, because then with that, everything else is going to come naturally.”
Among yoga, art therapy and education this month, there are many ways students can get involved in mental health advocacy, on and off campus. Bond said she recommends National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, Brazos Valley, the Brazos Valley Coalition for Mental Health and the on-campus HelpLine.
Another organization with offerings for the month-long awareness is Active Minds, who seeks to give positive reinforcement and a welcoming environment to all students, but particularly those who have been impacted by suicide. Industrial distribution senior Asad Abbas serves as the group’s treasurer, and said he helped coordinate the pinwheel memorial, which was located on Academic Plaza for the campus Suicide Awareness Walk on Sept. 7.
“We put [the pinwheel display] together and planned it. It’s an every year thing, so you know they’re going to be out there, [even] next fall,” Abbas said. “The biggest impact is just knowing how many students do commit suicide. That number goes on and on because people don’t notice it, and I was in that case in which I didn’t know that many people committed suicide, while being in college. This isn’t just every now and then, this is every single year.”
Overall, all these groups share a goal of helping students know they have resources and support available to them on campus. For Abbas, he feels even small displays of support for fellow students can have a big impact.
“The biggest thing is just try to make everybody’s day better, even if it’s a small smile, or it’s complimenting someone, even if it’s just a small gesture to open a door for somebody. It makes a big difference for everybody, you don’t know what someone’s going through and many times you won’t ever know what’s going on,” Abbas said. “Doing a small thing changes someone’s day or week or year. Some people hold on to that for a very long time, so I feel like that’s one thing I feel students can pick up on.”
Students like Harrell are looking forward to these chances to be with their peers, particularly those with a vested interest in mental health, and she said she’s grateful to have the events, especially given the past year and a half.
“I think it’s nice to have these events, because even though we’re suffering through [COVID-19] and everything, [they are] opportunities for students to come together,” Harrell said. “One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced with my own mental problems is being alone. These opportunities are just a good chance for those people to be with others who clearly care about the situation that this month is covering.”

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