I recently attended Suicide Prevention Training, held by OSU's UCAT and facilitated by Stephanie Rohdieck on 9/17/2013. The training workshop focused on skills to identify at-risk behavior, and provided statistics regarding at risk populations at universities.
This training was not an easy experience for me. Suicide is a very deeply personal topic for me. I’ve lost several friends to suicide. The word suicide resonates deeply with me. Culturally, there is a stigma surrounding it, a negative connotation that there must have been something wrong with the person. For me, however, the word suicide means that something has gone very wrong in a person’s life, and when they needed it the most, no one was there to help.
I have done extensive reading regarding the potential warning signs and prevention, this training was specific for universities and I am glad I attended it. However, when discussing suicide at a workshop there is some air of superficiality to it. Not by the facilitator, who did an excellent job communicating the information and conveying her own story and emotions regarding suicide, but among those attending the workshop itself. There was an air of separation in the workshop, distance from the reality of at-risk individuals. While I am certain every person in the room would do their very best to help someone who was suicidal, I got the distinct impression that the majority were there for the certificate and only going through the motions.
The choice to end your life comes only after all hope has run out. Only when enduring whatever pain, physical, emotional, mental, is too much and the effort to cling desperately to life is too much does a person choose suicide. The idea of seeking out help doesn’t occur to them, because who could possibly help with such a deeply personal issue? For those at risk for suicide, there is no other escape. It’s a dark, bleak, and painful world they live in, and many people do not have the strength or will to continue in it.
As far as helping students, I try to be aware of the wellbeing of all my students. Establishing a good rapport with students is essential. If I ever have to discuss at risk behavior with a student I know that I’ll be doing my best, however awkward, uncomfortable, and emotional the confrontation/discussion may get.