UNA students not immune to suicide, depression

UNA has had confirmed suicide attempts in the past year on campus, said UNA police Chief Bob Pastula. However, he said UNA does not have a high rate of suicide attempts compared to other universities.

“We don’t have a lot, but one would be too many,” said Pastula.

Once the police receive the call that a suicide attempt has occurred on campus, the police send the student to the hospital by ambulance, Pastula said.

They then notify Vice President of Student Affairs David Shields. Shields then notifies the parents of the student. UNA’s Care Team will also be contacted. Their job is to help the student as much as they can, Pastula said.

The Care Team will refer the student to counseling service on campus and will also refer them to off campus therapists, Pastula said.

“A lot of students come to college with a lot of stress, and it pushes them over the edge,” Pastula said. “We do all that we can to help them at the university.”

Lynne Martin, LPC, MLAP, associate director for University Health Services, explains several ways students may find relief from the impacts of depression.

“In general, college students can often lessen the impact of illnesses like MDD (major depressive disorder), and especially the situational episodes of sadness, by practicing a lifestyle of healthy self-care,” Martin said. “We regularly teach (healthy living) skills and help students develop a personalized self-care plan through the counseling relationship.”

Martin, however, cannot guarantee that those suffering from clinical depression can be helped by changes in lifestyle alone.

“Usually, clinical depression is treated by a combination of anti-depressant medication, personal counseling, and following a healthy self-care plan or lifestyle,” Martine said. “Certainly not all major depressive episodes can be prevented, and we must be very careful that we do not oversimplify treatment.”

Some UNA students take advantage of the counseling that the University Health Services provides.

“The UNA clinic has helped me a lot,” said Vivian Lesende, biology major at UNA. “I had been depressed a lot of my life without knowing it before the clinic at UNA suggested I try anti-depressants. It helped my attitude immensely.”

Pastula said if someone becomes less interactive, more sheltered, depressed, develops a change in diet and habits and is suffering from a drop in grades, he or she could be at risk for attempting suicide.