September is National Suicide Prevention month. The entire month is dedicated to raising awareness, reaching out and erasing stigma. In effort to shed light on the subject of suicide, the Active Minds chapter at Sam Houston State University has kicked off the month with several activities.
During the first week of the month, yellow ribbons were tied around the trees in the Mall Area. The yellow ribbon is the national symbol for Suicide Awareness. Active Minds also began the month with a table on the yard where members presented yellow ribbons, education cards and listening ears.
Rachael Hunnicutt, President of Active Minds, expresses how her role in the organization is humbling.
“It made me realized how blessed I am,” Hunnicutt said. “People will walk up to me to tell me their story and how they overcame a struggle. It makes all my problems seem petty.”
Active Minds is participating in a national campaign this month via the Active Minds Instagram, @SHSU_ActiveMinds, using the hashtag #ReasonsIspeak. During the first week of September, Active Minds members encouraged students to write why they speak up for Suicide Awareness on white boards which will be used to help promote the “Reasons I Speak” campaign.
Many inspiring quotes were written including “to be the light for others,” and other messages informing students they are not alone. Sarah Kennedy, former Freshman Mentor, promotes mental health in her peers by “encouraging resilient positivity and love.”
“Put love before stress, before hatred, and before your fears,” Kennedy said.
Suicide continues to be the second leading cause of death among college students and more than half of students attending college have suicidal thoughts.
During the month of September, Active Minds encourages the Bearkat community to speak up for those struggling with suicidal thoughts. In an effort to promote healthy minds, if you are struggling with depression, know you are not alone.
SHSU offers free counseling sessions for students. Hunnicutt discusses the positive impacts the counseling center had on her personally.
“I always left the office feeling ten pounds lighter,” Hunnicutt said. “I was never made to feel uncomfortable. It was really easy for me to discuss everything that was going on.”
Over 80 percent of college students who committed suicide never received professional help from their school’s counseling center. The counseling center is open during normal business hours Monday through Friday. You can contact the counseling center at 936-294-1720.
The fight for positive mental health starts with each and every one of us. For more information on how you can get involved or learn more about Suicide Prevention, visit ActiveMinds.org.