‘You’re Not Alone’: Residence Life, Health Services Host World Suicide Awareness Day

Suicide is the second ranking cause of death for college students in the United States following depression, according to research by California State University Northridge (CSUN).

“We live in a very, very digitally connected world that can often get in the way of us creating the real human connection. Anxiety, depression, and suicide rates are at their highest amongst college students so it’s important for us to remember that the little things can go a long way in helping others, and ourselves, feel loved and supported and that we’re part of a community,” said Ryan Kolter, coordinator of recreational sports at California Lutheran University.

Senior Coordinator for Residence Life and Student Conduct Andy Hanson hosts a suicide awareness event during the first week of classes every year to help students feel less stressed.

The event, which was held on Sept. 10, marks 11 years of acknowledging World Suicide Prevention Day at Cal Lutheran. The event was previously known as Free Hugs Day, but with the national rise in student suicide rates, Hanson said he aimed to create an event that was more educational and carried an impact lasting longer than a hug.

“It’s an opportunity to reach out to people that have either suicidal thoughts or they’re feeling down, or if somebody has been impacted by someone who has taken their own life. Myself personally, several people in my life have taken their own lives. And that was what first inspired me,” Hanson said.

According to the United States College Degree search website, which is an organization that compiles campus research, approximately 1,100 college students commit suicide annually across the country.

Psychologist Beth Turner works in Counseling and Psychological Services at Cal Lutheran.

“Working as a mental health professional, I see people coming in who don’t feel loved and don’t have people telling them they care about them. I think doing a lot of preventive work is really important to let people know beforehand that they matter,” Turner said.

Kolter said the little things matter when it comes to letting someone know you are thinking of them and care for them, because it could just be the thing someone needs to hear.

“Don’t forget to text at least two people today and let them know that they matter to you and that they are loved,” Kolter said.

Bryan Duda