Counselor gives advice on dealing with mental illness

Being irritable, not sleeping, not eating and not feeling one’s self are inevitable for most college students. For some, those feelings could be caused by something much more serious.

“There are (many) symptoms of depression,” said Jami Flippo, licensed practical counselor at Student Counseling Services. “Not everyone who is depressed is suicidal, but most people that are suicidal are depressed.”

Some symptoms of depression are insomnia or hypersomnia, (excessive tiredness), loss of energy, feeling worthless or hopeless, difficulty concentrating and difficulty in making decisions, according to the American Association of Suicidology.

Flippo said having one symptom probably does not raise concern, but having five or six is a big deal. If you are concerned about someone, simply ask, she said.

“Don’t be afraid to be real with someone,” Flippo said. “Don’t be afraid to say, ‘Hey, listen, I’m worried about you. These are the things that I’m seeing that make me concerned because I care about you.’”

Junior Kelly Hester said having a friend with suicidal intentions is a situation he hopes to never find himself in.

“I would be afraid to talk to them, but I would try to,” he said. “I feel like I wouldn’t be qualified enough to say something but I’d try to find him help some other way.”

Senior Erin McAllister said talking to a friend one-on-one, getting them into counseling or taking them to the doctor to get medicine are things she would try.

“I think starting out by talking to them first would probably be the best step,” McAllister said.

Sophomore Blake Mitchell would discourage a friend away from suicide, he said.

“I would tell them not to do it and that the Lord put them on this Earth for a purpose,” he said.

Flippo stresses the best route one can take when dealing with a friend who may have suicidal thoughts, is to listen.

“One of the biggest things I want people to understand is that responsibility does not lie on them,” she said.

Flippo also suggests accompanying the friend to counseling services or helping them set up an appointment, she said.

“What Q.P.R. (Question Persuade Response training) says is that typically people will reach out to someone if they’re having those feelings,” Flippo said. “I think sometimes a typical human reaction is to be scared to ask because we seem to think if we say something maybe we will put that thought in their head, which is not true. Studies have shown that is actually incorrect.”

Being aware of people you care about and not being afraid to ask the question is the big thing, Flippo said.

“I think a lot of times what may happen is we either get scared and don’t know what to do, so we don’t do anything, or we don’t take it serious,” she said. “Those are the two biggest things that can kind of hinder us a little bit from helping folks.”

Though it is not another person’s responsibility to figure out whether or not someone’s suicide claim is sincere, every threat should be taken seriously, Flippo said.