Treat the Person, Treat the Stigma: Suicide and Mental Health Awareness at NSU

Sunday, Oct. 7 starts Mental Illness Awareness Week. Roughly one in five people in the United States are affected by mental illness, because of this, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is promoting this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week with the theme of “CureStigma.” Stigmatization of mental illness furthers shaming, fear and avoidance of mental illness. These reactions to mental illness often lead to preventing individuals from seeking help and treatment. A 2004 study conducted by Patrick Corrigan at the University of Chicago, found that only approximately 30% of individuals with mental illnesses actively seek treatment.

Suicide accounts for roughly 45,000 deaths per year in the United States alone and has wide-reaching effects across various ages, races and genders. Suicide and suicidal ideation are often found as a result of various mental illnesses, mainly of depression. There may also be warning signs exhibited in an individual who is contemplating committing suicide. The most common warning signs- according to Dr. Scott Poland, professor in the College of Psychology and the Co-director of the Suicide and Violence Prevention (SVP) Office- are “statements about suicide, death and dying”, “giving away prized possessions”, “dramatic changes in behavior” and “making out a will”.

“For example, if someone is not [a person] who spends a lot of money maybe going on a shopping spree or giving away very personal belongings like giving away anything that has a lot of meaning to them are warning signs. In schools, if someone typically gets good grades, and [then] their grades are dropping that would be another drastic change in behavior,” said Dr. Stefany Marcus from NSU’s Suicide and Violence Prevention Office about possible warning signs of individuals who may attempt suicide.

   In addition, Lambda Theta Alpha, Latin Sorority, Inc. will host the “Out of the Darkness” walk on Nov. 11. This annual tradition started in 2009 as a way to spread awareness of suicide on campus. Last year, butterflies, a symbol of those who lost their lives to suicide, were released after the walk took place.

The 24-hour National Crisis Helpline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-Suicide. The National Crisis Text line can be reached by texting HOME to 741741. All Nova students are also offered counseling sessions with Henderson Student Counseling Services. The Henderson group offers individual, group and couples counseling, as well as psychiatric evaluations.  Students may participate in 10 sessions per year at no charge. However, students who go for psychiatric evaluations are charged a small fee and they accept the school insurance. To make an appointment call 954-424-6911, they also take walk-in appointments. The Henderson group is located at the University Park Plaza 33440 S. University Drive, Davie, FL 33328. The NSU Psychological Services Center Clinic also offers counseling to students who are experiencing mental or emotional health problems and can be found in the Maltz Psychology building. “Fun fact. If you tell Siri that you want to kill yourself or if you tell google they will actually send you to the suicide prevention lifeline. Siri will connect you if you do not answer. I think that [these services] speak to the generation that we’re in. Ask for help, even if it’s Siri, that is the message that needs to get across. It is okay to ask for help, and it is okay to not be okay,” said Dr. Stefany Marcus .

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