Suicide Prevention Month: Helping others through understanding and education

The+Counseling+and+Psychological+Services+office+is+located+behind+Mary+Erin+Porter+Hall+on+Mercer%27s+campus.

Image: Lars Lonnroth

The Counseling and Psychological Services office is located behind Mary Erin Porter Hall on Mercer's campus.

Content warning: This story mentions suicide and mental health challenges throughout.

Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, equalling one person every 40 seconds, according to World Health Organization

For every one individual that did die by suicide, WHO found that there were approximately 25 individuals who contemplated or attempted suicide at the same time. 

Suicide affects many people, whether it be directly or indirectly. Some may have struggled with suicidal ideation themselves. Still others may have family members, friends or even acquaintances that have attempted or died by suicide. 

If these statistics have you wondering how you can help, one way is to recognize and raise awareness for World Suicide Prevention Month during the month of September. 

World Suicide Prevention Day is Sept. 10 and was created by the International Association for Suicide Prevention in order to provide an opportunity for people across the globe to raise awareness of suicide and how it impacts so many.

AWARE, which stands for Advocating Wellness and Responsibility Everyday, is a group of  Mercer students who advocate for mental health and wellness needs in the community. They work to promote wellness in students both mentally and physically by educating peers on healthy habits such as coping skills, stress and time management skills, organizational skills and skills for identifying anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges. 

Gabrielle Tibbetts, a junior psychology major, is a peer educator who works closely with AWARE. 

“We aim to destigmatize mental illness and the process of counseling as well as teach students about the resources Mercer has if they are in need of counseling or psychological support. By creating a community of openness and acceptance around mental health issues, we can have more conversations about how to better support those struggling,” Tibbetts said. 

The organization is working to raise awareness of World Suicide Prevention Month and the impact it can have on the Mercer student body. 

AWARE will be working with the Sexual Assault, Hazing, and Alcohol Prevention Education group and Counseling and Psychological Services to create a suicide awareness campaign, hosting multiple events throughout the month of September. There will be a special week of events and information to highlight National Suicide Awareness Week Sept. 6-12. 

AWARE is also dedicated to creating a safe space for individuals to talk about issues that disproportionately affect college students, such as suicide. They also offer advice on mental health and refer people to the CAPS office. 

“AWARE has hosted a few talks on suicide in the past, but we hope that working closely with CAPS and SHAPE this year will foster a more permanently safe environment for these hard conversations, not just during the month of September,” Tibbetts said. 

Events will be posted on the AWARE Instagram page, and teal and green ribbons will be available to support suicide awareness. 

Tibbetts said AWARE hopes World Suicide Prevention Day and Suicide Prevention Month will lead to open and honest conversations among students, faculty and staff who may be struggling. 

“I hope that AWARE can have a long-lasting impact in fostering Mercer’s community of respect and encourage all students to seek help now or in the future as adults,” she said.