Raising Suicide Awareness on Campus

With the constant stress of high stakes testing, career planning, and group projects, many Mines students frequently find themselves stressed and overwhelmed. While some stress is normal, negative feelings can sometimes spiral into depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thought patterns. Several campus and community organizations are thus working together to continue the discussion of suicide awareness and make sure that students have access to the resources they need.

“At Mines, the whole atmosphere is really tense and students don’t like to talk about their weaknesses or to even have weaknesses,” explained Alisha Eskew, a senior in Biochemistry and President of Active Minds at Mines. “That is a pretty big barrier to suicide prevention.”

Active Minds at Mines is working with Alpha Phi Omega (a coed service fraternity on campus) and the Mines Counseling Center to organize an entire week of suicide awareness activities that reach all members of campus.

Events will be concentrated throughout the week of Nov. 6, but the organizers hope to spark a long-lasting movement on campus.

“If one person attends one event, we hope that this starts the conversation,” stated Peter Weddle, a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering and Pledgemaster for Alpha Phi Omega. “We want to have a variety of events that appeal to all types of people. We have a diverse culture at Mines.”

The week will start with a “Mindful Mondays” meditation session that focuses on being thoughtful and aware of one’s surroundings in order to connect meaningfully with others. The meditation event will be followed by a seminar that highlights cultural barriers to asking for help and methods to tackle these.

“Culture says that we are and we do certain things and, if you run contrary to that, it can affect your mental health,” Weddle explained. The session will include speakers from SWE (Society of Women in Engineering) and MEP (Multicultural Engineering Program) along with several CSM alumni. Each will provide personal examples of overcoming societal stereotypes to find success and happiness.

Jefferson Center for Mental Health will also be on campus to host a Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training for faculty and staff on campus. This nationally recognized training will help faculty members recognize signs of distress in students and to respond appropriately if a student comes to them for help.

Similarly, Mines Veterans Alliance (MVA) will sponsor an event focusing on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While the event will cover veterans’ experiences with PTSD, the session will also be generalized to include the effects of PTSD in non-veterans.

“Traumatic events happen to everyone,” said Weddle. MVA will address how traumatic events might shape a person’s life and help participants understand how to be respectful of triggering moments or symbols for others.

Ultimately, the variety of suicide awareness events will work to help student realize that they are not alone and that suicide is not something to be stigmatized.

“This is a thing that people go through, this is real, this is not something that is just on TV,” Weddle stated. Because individuals contemplating suicide often pull away from family and friends, it is important for others to recognize the signs of distress and to have the courage to step in and speak up.

“We have a lot of resources and support but we really want to help students be the eyes and ears,” explained Lauren Jensen, Outreach Coordinator at the Mines Counseling Center.
In addition to pointing students towards campus resources, the events of this week will also inform students of resources in the Golden community and beyond.

A table with online, phone, and informational resources will be located on the ground floor of the student center throughout the week.

“Being new at Mines, I see how well students care for each other and I see how hard this school is,” Jensen stated. “There is help and people do not have to be alone. It requires us to be brave in asking the right questions and helping students get involved with the right resources.”

While I love math and science, writing for the newspaper gives my life balance and allows me to meet lots of great new people. I am a Chemical Engineering major and I am also involved in Alpha Phi Omega (APO) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). When I am free from my studies, I enjoy traveling with my family, jogging, and baking. If you have an article idea or know of an event or person on campus that should be featured, let me know!

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