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Suicide awareness at forefront on campus

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Days after the second-annual Walk for Waltman, NAU lost another student to suicide. More than a year ago, Ryan Waltman took his own life, and the Walk for Waltman was started in his honor. Waltman was an NAU student, founding member and president of the FIJI fraternity.

But the days following the walk were met with heartbreak when Nick Acevedo commited suicide March 5.

FIJIs goal was to raise over $15,000 with the events leading up to the walk and the walk itself.

All proceeds went to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Arizona American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“This tragedy was definitely a movement in our organization. It helped us come together and focus on a topic that we thought isn’t discussed enough in society. Suicide has affected all of us directly, and I think it helped us spread awareness about suicide,” said Phi Gamma Delta member Kyle Russell.

According to the AFSP, suicide is currently the No. 10 cause of death in the United States. There are 44,965 deaths by suicide each year, and suicide itself costs the U.S. $69 billion annually.

On average, there are 123 suicides per day in the U.S.

In 2016, the highest suicide rate was among 45 to 54-year-olds. Per every 100,000 individuals, the number for that age group was 19.72. The second highest rate came from adults 85 years and older at 18.98. Adolescents and young adults came in lower at the number 13.15.

There is not a true number kept for suicide attempts in the U.S., although, each year the Centers for Disease Control keeps statistics on non-fatal injuries caused by self-harm and reported from U.S. hospitals to get a general idea.

In 2015, approximately 505,507 people were admitted to a hospital due to self-harm. Although this data was collected, it’s not disclosed which were intentional suicide attempts and which were non-intentional self harm behaviors.

There are warning signs that go along with suicide to look for if it seems it may be questionable what a person is going through.

According to the AFSP, those signs include change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behavior and is the strongest concern if the new behavior is related to a painful event or loss.

Change in behavior includes increased use of alcohol or drugs, withdrawing from activities, sleeping too little or too much, giving away prized possessions and others.

Another indicator is in the way people talk. If someone is talking about feeling hopeless, being a burden to others, feeling trapped and feeling unbearable pain, it may be a sign that the person is suicidal.

Another statistic by the AFSP said that 90 percent of those who take their lives have a mental disorder at the time of their death. There are treatments both biological and physiological that can help to address underlying issues that put people at risk of suicide.

According to the Mayo Clinic, treatment of suicidal thoughts and behavior will vary depending on the situation. This includes the level of suicide risk and what core problems may be causing the suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

With the recent and past suicides at NAU, it is important for students to take precaution and make sure to be aware of their mental health and their peers’ mental health.

“[The deaths have] greatly affected the campus as a whole, including those who did or did not know him. It really makes people aware and helps them understand not only how they would be affected by suicide, but how the people around them are affected,” said Chi Omega sorority member Jordan Synkelma.

NAU also offers many programs to help students who are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self harm.

NAU offers a chance to request a free 60 minute StressLess presentation. This presentation provides the opportunity for a party of five or more people to see a presentation put on by NAU that informs students on how to cope with stressful events in their lives and how to keep a positive mind. The presentation topics students may choose from include help with depression, managing anxiety, suicide prevention and identifying students in distress.

NAU counseling services are also available for all students on campus. Counseling services have therapists and other resources available for students.

The counseling number is 928-523-2261, and they can give an initial assessment.

Students can also join the Mental Health Task Force through NAU where they can help to make students aware when it comes to mental health.

Another service offered is “paws your stress,” where dogs are brought to NAU once a month and students can hang out while petting the dogs, color mandalas, make stress balls and more to help cope with anxiety and pressure.

It is important for students to consider their options, NAU has a number of services from counseling to events put on to help students cope with their stressors.

There is also the suicide hotline which in the US is 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.