ARMY ROTC Holds Suicide Prevention Awareness Walk/Run
By Chaninn Ragland
One American dies by suicide every 12.95 minutes, according to the American Foundation for Suicide.
To bring prevention and more awareness to suicide, Florida A&M University’s Army ROTC Battalion held its annual Suicide Prevention and Awareness Campus Walk/Run on Sept. 24.
“Getting the school and the community involved to be aware of suicide is important, because when suicide happens it’s often too late and there’s nothing anybody can do about it,” LaDonna Carney, battalion executive officer and senior criminal Justice student, said.
September was also designated as National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Suicide is considered the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death among the 15-24 year-old age group. Florida is ranked 20th in the country when it comes to suicide deaths.
The Sept. 24th event was not just a group of individuals walking or running around campus with signs. The group also wanted to educate others on why people might want to commit suicide and what are signs of someone who may want to harm themselves. They also wanted to inform others of solutions on how to get help.
Guest speaker Marquis Stewart, coordinator of the clinical program, and a licensed mental health counselor at FAMU’s Counseling Center spoke at the event. He spoke about why people might contemplate suicide, warning signs of suicide and how to prevent it.
“If someone is contemplating suicide that might be feeling worthless or they feel like they are not good enough, or they feel like they are a burden. That might be the reason that they don’t openly talk to anyone about it. They don’t want their family and friends to be worried about them. They might feel hopeless like there is no end or escape from their pain,” he said.
The American Foundation for Suicide says that 1 million Americans attempt suicide every year; 1.5 million years of life are lost annually to suicide.
Stewart said that if somebody is thinking about suicide the person really doesn’t want to die. They just don’t want to feel that pain no more. They feel they need that escape.
“But that pain is so deep, at that moment it is hard to see pass that constant pain the person is enduring at the time,” Stewart said.
He mentioned that there are warning signs that someone might want to commit suicide.
“Someone who is contemplating suicide … will give clues or warning signs before they make an attempt,” Stewart said. “They might not directly come out and say they are making an attempt to harm themselves. But you should be aware of small things that might go unnoticed when someone is thinking about harming themselves. They might say things like ‘I wish I wasn’t here no more or just in case I don’t see you anymore.’ ”
But don’t simply leave there statements to linger. Stewart recommends asking them questions. He said, “that might be the clue that they want to harm themselves,” Stewart added.
A dramatic change of behavior also can be a sign, said Stewart.
“If a person is usually bubbly and exciting all the time, then all of a sudden they get withdrawn and very quiet. You need to make sure they are okay.”
“But they not only act withdrawn,” Stewart said.
“If a person who is normally very quiet and stays to their selves, then all of a sudden they start to have risky behaviors and drastic mood swings. You need to ask a little more about it,” he said.
The FAMU ROTC Battalion had their own way of practicing suicide awareness.
Shaneeka Walwyn, battalion commander, a senior accounting major, said “We have a battle buddy system. We use something called Ace Card, you use that when you check on your battle buddy. You ask them if they are having any suicidal thoughts. Or simply just to make sure they are okay. Nobody stands alone in Army ROTC. You always have someone to go talk to about anything and we make sure of that.”
There are free resources and services on FAMU campus that can provide you with counseling. If anybody needs someone to talk to about their issues you can always go to the FAMU Office of Counseling.
They are accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS) and will provide you with a professional, confidential atmosphere where students can discuss their personal issues.
FAMU Office of Counseling is located 101 Sunshine Manor rd. for more information call 850-599- 8481.