Suicide prevention to be highlighted this month

Elizabeth Taylor, Associate News Editor

During September, which is National Suicide Prevention Month, many organizations raise awareness as individuals are encouraged to reach out to others who may be struggling with mental illness or suicidal thoughts.

Eastern’s Health Education Resource Center specifically promotes Project Semicolon, a nonprofit that uses the semicolon as an emblem for suicide prevention.

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence but chose not to,” Project Semicolon’s Facebook page says. “The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

The semicolon has become a popular tattoo for people who have dealt with suicidal thoughts or lost someone in their lives to suicide.

Another part of Suicide Awareness Month is the idea of destigmatizing mental illness. Theoretically, if the stigma around mental illness is removed, those who are dealing with it are more likely to ask for help.

Junior sociology major Maddin Herberger said this is one of the reasons why the month is important.

“What I think people could do to help prevent suicide is to talk about mental health and make counseling available for everybody,” Herberger said.

Despite how common suicide is, many people do not understand why someone could be driven to take their own life, which makes preventing it difficult.

Stress, or a sense of mental exhaustion, may combine with underlying issues to make suicide seem like the only option even though it is never the only option.

“I think it would be a good idea if companies allowed their employees to take mental days off, kind of like having a sick day, in order to ‘recharge,’ and I’d say the same for schools,” Herberger said. “When I feel mentally tired, I usually just draw, play video games or sleep. I try to do something that I would feel good about.”

Unfortunately, mental illness and suicide are not only an issue during the month of September.

Conversations surrounding mental illness have become less stigmatized in recent years, but the problem has not disappeared.

Rob Harper, sophomore construction management major, said raising awareness should not be limited to one month.

“I feel like suicide prevention should be all year, not just one month. People forget about it,” Harper said. “Suicide should be talked about more in school than just one section of a book.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, Eastern’s Counseling Clinic is available for appointments.

The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255.


Elizabeth Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]