Counselor discusses how to notice and prevent suicide

Students who are contemplating suicide should visit Student Counseling Services for professional help. Call 256-765-5215 to make an appointment.

by Life Editor Monday Sanderson

Hollywood experienced many deaths in 2016, and the same occurred in the UNA community. Unfortunately, some of those deaths were a result of suicide.

People commit suicide because they believe there is no hope for them, said Jami Flippo, licensed professional counselor for Student Counseling Services.

“They don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “That drives someone to believe this is their only option.”

Flippo said stress is one reason people might consider suicide. This a common emotion most college students feel, she said.

“The more stressed or depressed you are, it heightens that ‘all or nothing’ thinking,” she said. “There are many stressors on a college campus — school, relationships, responsibilities and other things that they might be experiencing for the first time on their own. They feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulder.”

While some people may see suicide as selfish, it is not, said sophomore Lauren Bobo.

“Yes, it does impact a lot more than you realize, but it’s not necessarily selfishly motivated,” she said. “Usually, it is done or attempted because the person is in so much pain that there seems to be no other way to make it stop, or they believe that everyone would be way better off without them because they feel useless or like a burden.”

Bobo said suicide can have a profound effect on family members and friends.

“I’ve had two family members commit suicide,” she said. “One was my uncle before I was born, but it severely impacted my life because my family basically stayed depressed a lot, especially around September, the month he died.”

Flippo said there are a couple of ways people can recognize when a person might commit suicide.

“The person may have a change in mood or start talking about suicide,” she said. “They may even express depressed thoughts. However, these are not the same for everyone.”

Flippo said while someone might be depressed, they may not be suicidal.

If someone is having suicidal thoughts, they should seek professional help, she said.

“Students can come receive help with the Student Counseling Services,” she said. “If a student needs help at a time we’re not open, there are places in the community they can go. Riverbend Center for Mental Health is one of the largest mental health centers in the state, and they are right here.”

Bobo said family members and friends can be great help to those who are considering suicide.

“You should make the person feel as safe talking to you as possible,” she said. “Be gentle. A lot of suicidal people can be talked down without needing to be hospitalized, a huge fear of many which leads to them not telling you they’re suicidal.”

Flippo said one method people can use to help those with suicidal thoughts is QPR, which stands for question, persuade and refer. The person using this technique should ask the other person if they are thinking about suicide. The next step is persuading them to talk more and give more information on how to help. The last step is referring the other person to a professional.

It is important for people to know they are not responsible for the actions of the person who committed suicide, Flippo said.

“I never want anyone to think ‘If I had done that, they would still be here,’” she said. “We do what we’re equipped to do. It’s almost as if someone didn’t perform CPR because they didn’t know how to do it, and they now feel guilty. You shouldn’t feel guilty.”