In accordance with National Suicide Prevention Month, Fairfield University has experienced an increase in discussions about the topic. Staff members from Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as the Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, have served at the forefront of this effort, making sure their year-round messages of support and awareness reach the masses during this month more than ever.  

On Thursday, Sept. 17, SDMA and C&PS hosted a virtual Zoom event titled “Empower your Peers – A Suicide Prevention Seminar.”

The aim of the seminar was to inform students of the scope of the public health issue of suicide, to educate them what warning signs to look out for in people around them and to empower them to take action to save lives,” said Mark Celano, assistant director of C&PS.

Celano and SDMA program coordinator, Asha Perry, emphasized that despite the awkwardness of asking personal questions, students must check-in on others exhibiting potential warning signs of suicide. They stressed the importance of listening non-judgmentally. Additionally, if students do have somebody suicidal confide in them, they must remain calm and connect the student to the appropriate services on campus.  

Perry noticed a positive response from students. The audience showed an eagerness to learn and a high level of engagement. The consensus that she gathered was that students felt much more prepared to not only recognize behavior indicative of suicidal thoughts, but also act accordingly in such a situation. 

Preventing suicide is everyone’s responsibility,” remarked Celano. “Mental health experts can treat the conditions that cause someone to consider suicide, but we can all help spot people in trouble by knowing the warning signs and by connecting those people with trained professionals.

Suicide ranks as the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and, as Celano highlighted, it is the second most common cause of death for college students. 31 percent of college students consider killing themselves, with nine percent actually making an attempt. Such statistics make awareness on college campuses vital.  

Perry expressed the following statement regarding this matter: Take the signs seriously and understand one may never know the struggle that the next individual faces.  Encourage your peers. Ask the questions. Validate their emotions. Help is there.” 

There is undoubtedly help here at Fairfield University. 

Counseling & Psychological Services is a no cost service for all undergraduates. This confidential service is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  

If someone is meeting with a counselor virtually, Zoom rooms are available in the C&PS office to maintain social distance, while still ensuring privacy.  

Additionally, the Department of Public Safety is available 24/7 for emergencies, including calls about suicide, which can then be connected or transferred to C&PS counselors. 

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