September brings awareness to National Suicide Prevention
Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for college students across the nation.
According to a survey from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more students are in need of suicide prevention education and information than ever before. The UH Counseling and Psychological Services Center provides valuable psychological and emotional care for students in need.
CAPS has been on campus since 1985 and is dedicated to help combat student suicide and mental illness. CAPS services include daytime and after-hours crisis intervention, individual and couples’ counseling, group counseling and free weekly “Food for Thought” workshops.
“As mental health professionals, we strive to help students cope and work toward self-understanding and improvement of psychological, interpersonal and academic functioning,” CAPS said on its website.
CAPS offers suicide prevention training to counselors and doctors through the nationally recognized suicide prevention program, Question, Persuade, Refer. According to CAPS, QPR explains how to persuade the person to contact appropriate assistance and how to refer options to students.
“Almost 40 percent of our students indicate having had thoughts of ending their lives during the two weeks prior to their first visit to CAPS,” Director of CAPS Norma Ngo said. “These thoughts range from just ‘not wanting to be here’ to having specific plans around suicide.”
Between Sept. 2013 and Aug. 2014, 1,276 students visited CAPS.
“The number of students coming to CAPS has been steadily increasing for several years,” Ngo said. “Suicide prevention is one of our main initiatives.”
CAPS has expanded to include a new program called “Let’s Talk,” aiming to “provide easy access to informal confidential consultations with therapists,” according to the CAPS website. Students are encouraged to attend the walk-in sessions with CAPS therapists, who “will listen closely to your concerns and provide support, perspective, and suggestions for resources.” No appointment or fee is required.
“They’re great for anyone that needs help, no matter how small or big their problem may be,” said marketing junior An Vu.
“Suicide is important for students to talk about because it can happen to anyone. It could be a family member, friend, neighbor or classmate who contemplates these negative thoughts, and you wouldn’t even know it because they hide their feelings so well.”
Last June, a UH student took her own life at the construction site of TDECU Stadium, falling 60 feet to her death.
UH students agree that it’s important to have a support system and to get help when facing suicidal thoughts.
“It’s pretty hard to overcome those types of feelings alone,” mathematical biology senior Ervin Lopez said. “Some type of interaction is necessary.”
Eighteen percent of undergraduate students and 15 percent of graduate students have considered attempting suicide in their lifetimes, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
“An individual experiencing a crisis is encouraged to come to CAPS as soon as possible and ask for a same-day Initial Consultation appointment,” said CAPS Assistant Director Cecilia Sun.
According to the CAPS website, all currently enrolled students at UH are eligible for clinical services at CAPS, and most of the services are free of charge.
Accounting senior Brenda Madrigal said she was able to overcome her depression by taking small steps and trying to stay positive.
“If getting out of bed and brushing your teeth is a big accomplishment, it should be celebrated,” Madrigal said.
“At the end of the day I always try to think of something good that happened, or something new I learned, and I tell myself that if I had not been alive on that day I would have never experienced it.”
Electrical engineering junior Dominic Mak lost a friend to suicide and struggled with his own depression for roughly six years. Mak said it’s important for students to communicate their feelings and learn more about mental illnesses in order to combat student suicides.
“Depression is hard, and the stigma and unwillingness to acknowledge it only make it more difficult,” Mak said.
“Through education and conversation, we can work towards gently bringing depression into the light and helping those who are suffering.”
If you are experiencing or know some one experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression, reach out to CAPS and schedule a consultation today. CAPS is open Monday-Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In the event of an after-hours crisis, call the UH Department Of Public Safety at (713) 743-3333 and ask to be transferred to the CAPS “Clinician on Call.”