It’s time to #StopSuicide

Gianna Caravetta | Opinion Editor | @giannacara

World Suicide Prevention Day was this past week on Sept. 10. All around the globe, millions of people joined the conversation by using #StopSuicide on social media to raise awareness to put an end to suicide.

University of San Diego students, staff, and community are passionate and hopeful about stopping these preventable deaths and ending the stigma around mental health.

Mental health is as serious as any other health crisis that affects your body. The conversation about mental health should not only be associated with your physical health, but it should also be undetachable and, thus, unavoidable.

USD junior Christina Belloso is an ardent proponent of mental health awareness. She agreed that these two constructs must go hand in hand. Belloso also helped to organize USD’s Mental Health Awareness Week last year.

“As someone who advocates for mental health, I hope that one day we live in a world where people are just as aware of their physical health as they are of their mental health,” Belloso said. “We all go through tough times, and we often have to take a step back and check in with ourselves.”

USD junior Katelyn Johnson is in agreement, stating that we must be concerned for our holistic health.

“It’s kind of like exercise, you just have to do it,” Johnson said. “You have to take care of yourself: sometimes there is a chemical imbalance in your body, and you have to get medication, other times you have to talk it out with someone. It all depends. But, at the end of the day, self care is important.”

Once we, as a community, get into the habit of destigmatizing mental health, we can focus on helping those affected by it. As world-renowned Christian pastor Rick Warren, whose son took his own life after a long battle with mental health, once said, “Your illness is not your identity. Your chemistry is not your character.” We must be aware of this.

Belloso explained that we need to keep going forward, to keep on fighting the good fight.

“We just need to start getting comfortable with talking about mental illness and starting the conversation,” Belloso said. “It’s the only way to provide people with a safe environment where they can be open in disclosing with each other. And, in my opinion, all college students should have a counselor because this is probably the most stressful period in young adults’ lives, and they just need to talk it out.”

Whether you need someone to accompany you during your time of strife or whether you need to consult a mental health professional, support is available all throughout campus. Everyone on campus is at your disposal, from friends to mentors to professors to University Ministry, and most especially, to the Counseling Center in Serra Hall 300.

According to the USD website, the Counseling Center is fully committed to being available to students.

“Consistent with the University of San Diego’s philosophy of developing the whole person, the Counseling Center’s core purpose is to enhance the emotional, relational, and psychological well-being of students,” the website said. “We strive to facilitate students’ personal growth and enhance their academic success through accessible, culturally congruent clinical and outreach services. We work in collaboration with other Wellness and university departments and community partners.”  

Of course, the USD Counseling Center is just one of the many options you have when looking into taking control of your mental health situation. Although every situation is different, it’s important to know the signs that a friend might need help.

The “You are USD” page on the USD website offers some helpful hints to recognizing this:

  1. Sleeping too little or too much
  2. Increased withdrawal from friends or loved ones
  3. Excessive sadness, anxiety, or worry
  4. Lack of motivation
  5. Excessive alcohol or drug use
  6. Decline in academic performance or excessively missing classes
  7. Hopeless feelings and saying they have no reason to live
  8. Mood swings, irritability, and frequent arguments and conflicts
  9. Change in the tone/frequency of status updates and posts online

If you identify these signs, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone you feel comfortable sharing your own personal struggles with. Or reach out to a friend or peer you think is having difficulty coping with his/her situation.

We are all dealing with struggles, so remember that you’re not alone; you’re never ever alone.

We can be the ones to #StopSuicide, to give people a hope that does not disappoint. However, we must be about more than talk. We have to be about action. If we start off by addressing our mental health issues, we will be one step closer to ending suicide once and for all. As artist Kelly Rae Roberts once said, “Your beautifully, messy, complicated story matters, tell it.”

Let your voice be heard, and take care of yourself. There is hope in the journey.

You are so loved.

stop suicide