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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
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November 30, 2023

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U. Counseling Center reaches out to students

After three New York University students committed suicide last year, it opened the public’s eyes to the issue of suicide on college campuses.

The latest jump occurred less than two weeks ago. Joanne Michelle Leavy leaped naked off the Tisch Building at NYU. She was the sixth NYU student in less than a year to commit suicide this way.

In response, the University’s Counseling Center has begun to track students with suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviors on campus more carefully, according to Becky Davenport, staff psychologist and liaison to residence life for the Counseling Center.

The Counseling Center began this process last year when the suicides in New York attracted national attention.

Now, the center collects data to track depression on campus, in hopes to help students anyway they can.

During Spring 2004, 30 percent of students seeking help at the Counseling Center were experiencing symptoms of depression.

“During the past few spring semesters, the trend seems to be that symptoms of depression are increasing gradually among those students seeking counseling at the Counseling Center,” Davenport stated.

Last year, 185 reports were filed for students with suicidal thoughts. Less than 10 percent of those cases included some kind of suicidal behavior.

Suicidal thoughts and feelings happen at different levels, Davenport said.

An individual may think things such as “I wish I could just escape” or “I wish I were dead,” and may or may not have any intention of acting on those thoughts.

Actions of a suicidal individual may include leaving a note for someone and or threatening to hurt themselves. The individual may also take an overdose of pills or mix pills with alcohol. Suicidal behavior can take many forms, some of which can be very dangerous.

With October being Depression Awareness Month, the Counseling Center has another reason to focus on suicide, which is sometimes the end result of depression.

The center offers many services to students year-round, but more specifically in the month of October. Services include workshops on depression and stress management as well as suicide prevention.

On Oct. 7, National Depression Screening Day, they offer in-person and online screening for common mental health concerns such as depression, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stess syndrome and generalized anxiety disorder.

Davenport feels it is important for students to take advantage of the services the Counseling Center has to offer.

“I sincerely believe I have yet to meet a person who could not benefit from couseling,” Davenport said. She explained, saying that does not mean all people should seek counseling all the time. People could benefit from learning how to relax and from learning stress prevention techniques from the psychoeducational workshops.

As for the specific workshops of Depression Awareness Month and suicide prevention, Davenport sees them as useful to students in a different way.

“Those are a great means of prevention and support above and beyond therapy,” Davenport said.

In order to treat all the individuals needing help and offer the workshops and education to students, the counseling center stays busy.

“We are very busy at the counseling center — but we can always use more staffing,” Davenport said.

Another way the Counseling Center focuses on helping students through difficult times is by offering training to Resident Advisors and Hall Directors.

RAs and Hall Directors go through training and workshops given by the counseling center two weeks before classes begin to learn how to deal with students in need of help.

Glenn Bailey, an RA in Rodgers, has found this training to be useful in his two years as an RA in Founders and in Rodgers.

“We have a really good counseling center,” Bailey said. They offer all kinds of services, even if it’s just homesickness, he said.

The Counseling Center also offers services to RAs themselves needing help dealing with the pressures of all their responsibility.

The Counseling Center plans to continue to track student depression and suicide on campus.

“Keeping track of distress on campus can help us more as a community,” Davenport said.

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