The Psychology Department hosted a suicide prevention and awareness day on Nov. 3.
The event began at the D’Angelo Center foyer with a depression screening for students where they filled out a brief survey about their feelings and emotions. Afterward, surveys were reviewed by a psychiatrist who diagnosed their results of depression and anxiety.
The department provided various brochures, magnets, “stressometers,” business cards and even candy in order to spread awareness of suicide around the University to the students.
“It’s good to know that the University provides events such as this as a way to reach out and inform students,” said freshman Byron Johnson. “I’ve learned things about myself that I didn’t even know.”
The department urged any students who feel depressed or anxious to seek guidance at the Counseling Center on the first floor of Marillac, where they could set up appointments with University psychiatrists.
In addition to depression screenings students attended a film and discussion on stories of college depression by Dr. Kamau Grantham, a graduate of St. John’s. Grantham showed the audience a film about people who have attempted suicide. The video showed how those who attempt suicide not only affect themselves, but those who care about them as well.
The video explained that the main reason for their attempts was that they could not handle their problems and wanted an escape. It also demonstrated how suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
“Everyone’s body is different,” Grantham said. “People should be aware of what their symptoms are.”
Grantham stressed the importance of seeking help if needed by reiterating the assistance available at the University.
“You better use it now because when you graduate you have to pay for it.” said Grantham as the students laughed.
Finally students, graduates and professors ended the day with a lecture titled “Why Do People Hurt Themselves?” by Dr. Matthew Nock
from the Department of psychology of Harvard University.
Nock explained the recent advances of understanding suicide and self injury and gave an explanation to the risk factors of suicidal thoughts, including depression, anxiety, drugs and alcohol use. These things cannot only heighten the threat of suicide, but may increase the chance the individual will follow through with the act.
He also mentioned that people will inflict harm on themselves, even if they do not have the act of suicide in mind. Nock defined this as Non-Suicidal Self Injury.
“People hurt themselves as a means of communication because they lack social problem solving and communication skills,” Nock said.
There are, however, other alternatives to dealing with one’s problems, Nock told the audience. He mentioned one of his studies involving a patient who was inflicting self harm. Over the course of a few weeks, he told his patient to participate in aerobic activity, such as walking or lifting weights. When the patient did this, their need to inflict harm decreased and eventually disappeared.
Suicide is currently the second most common cause of death among college students. According to the American College Health Association, the suicide rate for young adults, ages 15-24, has tripled since the 1950s.