No suicides this spring using same protocol
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
While the number of suicides was above average in past semesters, associate professor of sociology James Tucker sees this recent trend as a good sign.
“Given the low suicide rate on campus, a one-year absence of suicide is not surprising,” Tucker said. “If the trend continues – with no student suicides over the next few years – we might conclude that the decline in the suicide rate is significant.”
As a sociologist, Tucker is familiar with some of the social causes of suicide.
“Among young people such as college students, suicide is often triggered by a major loss of some kind; an end to a romantic relationship, the death of a close relative, social isolation, or social humiliation, such as a bullied teenager,” Tucker said.
Students in various organizations on campus have decided to step up and promote the level of support and awareness of former students, friends and family members.
“It has profoundly impacted our community over the past few semesters,” Rachel Carroll, vice president of communications for the National Panhellenic Council, said.
Carroll oversaw the event planning of the “Out of the Darkness” walk on Saturday, an event sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Caitlin Keefe, a sophomore and member of Chi Omega sorority, started the walk on the UNH campus after losing her uncle to suicide a few years ago.
“It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but I think that the walk really raised awareness about the topic,” Keefe said. “In no way is [suicide] ever easy to talk about. After a while, though, when you push past it, you find other people who have struggled with the same things.”
Keefe said that people from all over the state came to walk and were able to talk about the similar pain that each of them felt. She described it as “very relieving and very sentimental.”
“Whether we were walking because we were directly affected by a suicide victim, or just because we supported the cause, we all walked together,” Carroll said. “Despite suicide being such a touchy, tragic and dark thing, the experience was very uplifting because we came together for a common cause.”
The “Out of the Darkness” Suicide Prevention Walk was joined by UNH Active Minds, a group that aims to promote mental health awareness on the UNH campus.
“I like to think the fact that it is okay to seek help is causing the decrease in the number of people who succumb to suicide,” Laura Klui, a member of Active Minds, said. “We encourage people to talk about it rather than keep quiet. One of our biggest beliefs is that silence is quite possibly the worst thing you can do to yourself and others.”
In the aftermath of a suicide on campus, special care must be taken to assess the impact of the situation. When a campus’ coping skills have been overwhelmed by a critical incident, it takes the effectiveness and responsibility of a well-organized community response. Oftentimes, however, no matter how prepared a response team is, the aftermath of something as tragic as a suicide can sometimes be just as – if not more – harrowing.
“Clearly our faculty and staff are very aware of the signs and have increased their attention to reporting their concerns, so we are able to get students help early on,” Chesney said. “However, no matter what protocols exist, there unfortunately will always be students who make the choice to take their life. It is very sad, but it is true.”