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The Antelope

The Antelope

Suicide prevention week: helping students to see the signs

Jana Sickler taught students the signs to help save a life. Photo by Kosuke Yoshii / Antelope Staff

UNK Counseling hosted a presentation last week on suicide prevention for students to attend. The workshop was held in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week and was led by Jana Sickler. Sickler’s lecture was titled “How to Help a Friend.”

Sickler, a mental health counselor at UNK, handled the organization and logistics of the event.

“Mental Health is high-priority right now,” Sickler said. “Making sure that everybody knows how to talk to their friends and be concerned about their friends without feeling like it’s so internalized and not knowing where to go is important. We are hosting a ‘How to Help a Friend’ every day this week. Student Health is also a great resource at this time. Right now we have plenty of openings, we’re willing to meet with students, come on over.”

National Suicide Prevention Week is an annual week-long campaign in the United States to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide. The “How to Help a Friend” presentation was sponsored by the Jed Foundation, a non-profit organization that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults in the United States.

Sickler presented on the importance of the acceptance of needing each other when addressing and tackling difficult mental health issues among young adults. Sickler emphasized to her audience the importance of acting and identifying where support is available, even when one is not an expert in helping vulnerable individuals.

According to the Jed Foundation, 50-75% of people who attempt suicide first talk to a friend when reaching out. Sickler provided some signs to look out for in those experiencing distress. 

Explaining why one is concerned, showing compassion, listening and being aware that it might not go as planned are just some of the ways one can spark dialogue when attempting to help a friend dealing with suicidal thoughts.

One student said she hoped to become more informed on mental health resources on campus. 

“(I hope) to grow a little more awareness and how if I ever feel symptoms or personally feel like I’m alone, I know where to go to get some help and ask questions,” said Norma Castellanos, a freshman undecided major.

UNK Counseling can be found in room 144 of the Memorial Student Affairs Building. Appointments can be made at (308) 865-8248. For advocacy and prevention training year-round, the Loper Mental Health Outreach Office is located in room 158 of MSAB.

If someone is in distress or aware of someone who might be about to commit suicide, they can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or UNK Counseling’s after-hours mental health crisis hotline at (308) 865-8248.

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