Between social media showing highlight reels of extravagant lives, the beauty industry pressuring people to look “beautiful” under society’s unattainable standards and academic competition more intense than ever, it is no surprise that poor self-image is considered typical. A poor self-image often leads to harrowing mental health conditions such as eating disorders, anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts. Worst of all, students don’t make mental health a priority, with 40% of students failing to seek help. September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and it is a reminder to every student that their mental health is imperative to leading a happy, healthy life.
While Suicide Prevention is the focus of the whole month of September, National Suicide Prevention Day is Sept. 10; it is a pivotal day for everybody to become more aware of suicide. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), a fantastic resource for anybody struggling with suicidal thoughts, created the hashtag #BeThe1To to bring awareness to this crucial month. The hashtag is designed to have something after it, such as #BeThe1toAsk. If you see someone struggling and you believe that they may be having suicidal thoughts, then you should step up and ask them in the most caring and gentlest way possible if this is true. Danielle Merolla, assistant director for Outreach and Community Based Interventions at Stony Brook University, said that “acknowledgment goes a long way.” Merolla also noted that it’s essential as a friend to “destigmatize getting help,” but also it’s crucial to “know the resources in order to be the bridge to those resources.”
The Suicide Prevention Line website provides stories of people who struggled with contemplating suicide, and in some cases, even attempted but saved their lives by getting help. Mike Liguori was a 9/11 first responder as well as a Marine. He struggled from severe PTSD and had extreme suicidal thoughts until he reached out and got the proper help. He now produces podcasts and helps people write books and scripts. Terry Wise attempted suicide after her husband’s death. After being found close to death and spending days in the ICU, she reached out to a therapist and got the help she so desperately needed. Today, she is the author of “Waking Up: Climbing Through the Darkness” and a motivational speaker who has spoken in all 50 states.
While the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is an excellent resource for students, Stony Brook University has services to help as well. Stony Brook’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) program offers completely free services to students struggling with anything. It’s equipped with professional counselors to speak to, dogs to pet when feeling stressed and meditation classes. Merolla reminded students that there is also a Let’s Talk program where “any student can walk into these sites, no appointments, no paperwork, and they can speak to a counselor about anything that’s on their mind. They can be confidential. It’s free, of course, and the student can be anonymous.” CAPS also offers Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR), which teaches students how to tell the signs of a potentially suicidal person, how to ask about suicide and how to get them to the proper resources.
CAPS is located on the second floor of the Student Health Services Center and its walk-in hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with hours of operation until 5 p.m. They also have a 24-hour phone line for students to connect with CAPS. The number is (631)-632-6720, and as explicitly stated on the CAPS website, the phone line doesn’t just have to be used for emergencies. Remember that getting help is courageous and that mental health should be a top priority in your life.