Based on federal data, rates of suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides have more than doubled for Americans ages 12 to 25 between 2008 and 2017.
The percentage of adults ages 18 to 25 who have had serious thoughts of suicide in Kentucky is 7.45%. Further, 46% of college students have a diagnosable mental health issue, half of which are untreated.
These numbers indicate a crisis and, as we mark Suicide Prevention Month in September, UofL is focused on ensuring our students are aware of the resources available on campus to help them better manage their mental health.
The University of Louisville Counseling Center, for example, provides short-term individual, group, and couples counseling, crisis intervention and psychological testing. The Dean of Students Office, Residence Life and UofL Department of Public Safety are also equipped with suicide prevention resources and help.
Then, there’s the Cards SPEAK program, part of Student Affairs. The program was created specifically to provide training and awareness campaigns for students, faculty and staff. To mark Suicide Prevention Month, the group will host tabling events Sept. 19 and 23 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the SAC across from Chick-fil-A. The group will also host a “100 reasons to live” tree showcasing students’ artwork drawn on leaves.
Also in September, the University of Louisville’s Dean of Students and Counseling Center encourages students to complete the online, interactive Kognito training, which allows users to learn how to help a friend or fellow student who is struggling. Topics include techniques to talk to a friend you are concerned about, how to recognize signs of distress and what support services are available on campus. For the college-aged cohort specifically, such interactive training is critical, according to Geri Morgan, student care manager in the Dean of Students’ office.
“Suicide remains the second leading cause of death among traditionally-aged college students,” Morgan said. “We know from UofL’s well-being survey that students are more likely to go to a friend with their thoughts of suicide rather than to a family member, adviser, or instructor. Helping students learn and practice the skills to help their friends is important in getting students under such stress to professional help and potentially saving someone’s life.”
UofL is also focused on educating the community about suicide risk and ways to support loved ones. From Sept. 26-28, UofL’s suicide-risk specialist Laura Frey will lead a training, hosted by UofL’s Kent School, called “Navigate: Helping Families Navigate Suicide Risk.” The training will be held in Burhans Hall on the Shelby Campus.
The first day will cover an overview of suicide risk and assessment, including managing ongoing suicide risk and determining appropriate response based on risk levels. The other days focus on understanding family factors, including communication, response, dynamics and youth and adult development; and guidelines for moving forward, including family safety planning, tough conversations and family-based treatment. Education credit is available and a student rate is available as well.
For those who need help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK. A full list of resources available at UofL is available online.