Not On My Watch campaign comes to USD: National campaign on suicide prevention

By Devon Beck


USD is launching a new campaign in order to prevent suicide and raise awareness about the issue. The Not on My Watch Campaign hopes to help the community as a whole when it comes to these issues.

USD and other universities in San Diego came together earlier this month to participate in National Suicide Prevention Week which launched a county-wide “Not on My Watch” campaign. The campaign was intended to prevent suicide among college students and eliminate the stigma of asking for help.

Continuing with the “Not on my Watch” theme, USD is bringing this campaign to the campus community.

Recently, USD has been affected by four suicides that have taken place over the past year, which is more than the total number of suicides the school has seen in the past 14 years. Because of these tragedies, USD has taken it upon itself to prevent future losses to the community.

Junior and Director of Wellness and Sustainability, Avery Nickerson discussed the Not on My Watch Campaign taking place on campus. Nickerson explained the campaign as a way to get information about suicide and suicide prevention out to the campus population.

“I would love to see an increase in people going to the counseling center and I would love to see an increase in people going to the counseling center’s stress sessions,” Nickerson said. “I would just like to have an increase in people talking about suicide and suicide prevention and seeking help.”

Nickerson also discussed the stigma that some people face when wanting to ask for help. “The big thing that I’m very passionate about is the stigma around asking for help because I think that lies at the root of the issue of suicide. People aren’t asking for help because they think it’s embarrassing or weak.”

Looking toward an overall goal for the campaign, Nickerson said, “My goal is to have at least one student feel a little bit less lost or alone.”

Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs for Student Wellness, Moises Baron, also discussed the campaign and why USD decided to participate and make it their own.

“What we wanted to do at this point was complement those efforts with a more comprehensive community campaign where we’re really trying to raise awareness and also we’re trying to provide information and know-how to students, faculty, staff, parents how to accomplish three things.” Baron said, “One is to learn how to recognize the signs, the second is to learn how to talk about it when they recognize signs and have concerns and the third one is to be able to become available to become aware of the resources on campus and seek help.”

Baron also stressed the importance of three areas of Not on My Watch. “There are three key components. One is to raise awareness, the second one would be to be able to have a community of empowered and knowledgeable bystanders and the third one, which is very important, is to remind everybody about the resources that we have on and off campus, but also to try and remove the stigma that for some may be associated with seeking help.”

There are many upcoming events the Not on My Watch campaign will be putting on. The first one is Not on My Watch Week which will be taking place Oct. 21-25. It will be a week of suicide prevention programming. There is also a video contest in the works where students will be encouraged to make a 30-60 second video about eliminating the stigma of asking for help. The winners of the video will then receive a prize.

In addition to the events USD will be putting on in accordance to Not on My Watch, there will be new outlets for help and discussion.

Nickerson talked about how discussion groups will be formed for anyone wishing to discuss suicide prevention and mental illness.

Another important event that USD will be hosting this year in compilation with Not on My Watch is International Survivors of Suicide Day which will take place on campus, Nov. 23.

Nickerson wanted to remind the campus community that this ongoing campaign is for everyone. “I encourage people, especially those that were affected by the loss of our classmates last semester, to support this as much as they can, come to events and wear the bracelets,” Nickerson said. “The ultimate goal is we don’t want students taking their lives. We just don’t want to see what happened last semester, or anything like last semester happen again.”

Baron also encouraged campus-wide involvement. “Our hope is that members of our community will go to the website, take the time to read about it, learn all the different options and participate in the events that we have planned for the remaining of the semester and that will continue into the future.