Learn about pressures leading to suicide, and how you can save lives Sept. 17

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Suicide is a growing problem on college campuses. According to a new survey of 67,000 college students, more than 20 percent have considered taking their own lives, and it is the second-leading cause of death among college students. Overall, the suicide rate in the United States has climbed 28 percent since 1999 and may account for nearly 100,000 deaths each year.

800px SPR18 HWP SuicidePreventionLogo Tagline FCA campuswide suicide awareness campaign will launch Monday in conjunction with the national Suicide Prevention Awareness Week.For the past two years, special Mental Health Town Hall meetings at UAB have given members of the campus community the chance to share concerns and suggestions for change. These ideas have led directly to several process improvements and new initiatives, explains Angela Stowe, Ph.D., director of Student Counseling Services and Wellness Promotion:

“The momentum that has been built is very exciting,” Stowe said.

Need help?

If a person is in immediate danger or has attempted suicide, call 911 or the UAB Police Department at 934–3535. 

Resources for UAB faculty and staff (and their households):

  • The Employee Assistance Counseling Center offers confidential services for employees and members of their immediate households, including free resources for resolving work-related and personal problems.

Resources for students:

Resources for all:

  • Birmingham Crisis Line: offers support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - 323–7777
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255) or suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Suicide prevention task force launching

Now, the third Mental Health Town Hall, to be held at the start of Suicide Prevention Awareness Week 6–8 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Hill Student Center, will introduce a major new initiative: the UAB Suicide Prevention Task Force.

The task force, whose members include faculty, staff and students, was convened at the direction of President Ray Watts, Provost Pam Benoit and Vice President of Student Affairs John Jones. The group is charged with coordinating a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy at UAB, including a campuswide campaign to increase awareness of services for those in need and training opportunities for all campus community members.

The town hall also will include a panel discussion featuring President Watts, Professor Robin Lanzi, Ph.D., of the School of Public Health, and undergraduate and graduate students. The group will address key questions that emerged at previous meetings, including the awareness that certain cultures and identities face unique barriers to care, including stigma, Stowe says. The panel also will field questions from the audience via an anonymous text-messaging system. “Those questions have informed a lot of our work in Student Counseling Services and Wellness Promotion,” Stowe said.

How you can help

Many explanations have been put forward to explain the rise in suicide among college-age students, including the peer pressure of social media, financial stress, substance abuse and a general rise in anxiety spurred by technological and cultural changes. “There’s not one explanation — this is a multi-faceted problem,” Stowe said. But what is clear, she notes, is that everyone can play a role.

The Mental Health Matters workshop series was designed specifically for faculty and staff. In partnership with the Center for Teaching and Learning, Student Counseling Services offers two-hour “Foundations” training on Sept. 28 and Nov. 6 in EB 243, and Oct. 19 and Nov. 28 in Shelby Room 515. Register here.

QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training gives laypeople the tools to respond to a mental health emergency with simple, specific techniques — in the same way that CPR or the Heimlich maneuver helps bystanders respond to a medical emergency. Student Counseling Services will offer QPR Suicide Intervention Certification for faculty and staff Oct. 15 and Dec. 15 in the Center for Teaching and Learning. Register here. Student Counseling Services will also offer the training for departments or other groups on request, Stowe notes.

Know the signs

Suicide often is unexpected, but there are warning signs that anyone can use to predict when it may happen. Learn more about what to look for, and simple things you can do to help, in this story from UAB News.

Take part in the future of care

At the time of suicide, at least 80 percent of people are in a depressive episode. Researchers in the Department of Psychiatry are leading many clinical trials testing new treatments for people with depression. See available studies at UAB and learn more about the research.