North Texas Daily

Prevention week brings memories of student suicide

Prevention week brings memories of student suicide

Prevention week brings memories of student suicide
September 10
08:22 2013

Joshua Knopp / Senior Staff Writer

It’s National Suicide Prevention Week, and UNT will recognize the week with multiple training workshops.

According to a Businessweek article published in May 2012, 1,100 college students die by their own hand every year.

A 2009 University of Texas study found that 50 percent of undergraduate students think about suicide, 18 percent plan their suicide and 8 percent attempt it.

The American College Health Association found that the suicide rate among students ages 15 to 24 has tripled since the 1950s. A University of Virginia study found that it is the second-highest cause of college student death, with vehicle accidents as the highest.

The most recent UNT suicide was July 4, when general studies junior Jonathan Huey was found dead on the fifth floor of the GAB, in the computer room where he worked as a student assistant. He was found asphyxiated and alone in a secure room with no sign of foul play. He was 22.

“The circumstances of Jon’s death were a complete shock, and I don’t know of anyone that had even a hint that his life would end this way,” Jonathan’s father, David Huey said. “I personally believe what happened to Jon was a tragic accident, possibly a result of Jon’s fearless approach to life, but I know all that knew him can definitely say they were a little better off from having had Jon Huey pass their way.”

The school sent condolences to Huey’s family and flew a flag to honor him for a week, and then sent the flag to his family as well. UNT President Lane Rawlins also published a letter to commemorate Huey on July 8.

UNT hosts multiple suicide prevention workshops per year.  Associate professor at the counseling and higher education center Casey Barrio and Counseling and Testing Center psychologist Pamela Flint hold a two-day applied suicide intervention skills training workshop. Flint also holds Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) sessions. The next session will be today from 2 to 4 p.m. in Chestnut Hall 324. Each of them focus on different warning signs for suicide.

“People are unique, and people show they are distressed in different ways,” Barrio said.

She stressed that knowing people well is the best first step for suicide prevention.

Flint mentioned verbal cues that seem to indicate a person will not be around much longer as a big indicator. The steps of her QPR plan are oriented toward asking the person directly, “are you suicidal.”

“Hopefully, in spending the time with the person, you’ve demonstrated that you care about them, and that you asked the question because you care about them,” Flint said. “It’s persuading them to not only acknowledge that they’re suicidal, but getting them to do something about it.”

UNT News Service Manager Buddy Price said the university’s counseling and testing center is always a resource for students.

“Emotional distress among university students is very common,” Price said in a statement. “Left untreated, sadness and depression can set the stage for suicide, which is the second leading cause of death among students.”

He also talked about the CARE team, a council of students, faculty and staff who make sure students receive the help they need.

“The CARE team has been created to protect the health, safety and welfare of UNT students and the members of the UNT community,” Price said. “UNT encourages students to take note of demonstrated distress, disruptive or dangerous student behavior and bring those concerns to a faculty member, CARE team member or the Dean of Students’ office.”

Associate director of the counseling and testing center Timothy Lane is on the CARE team, and said any time someone is concerned about a student, it’s reasonable to direct someone to the CARE team.

“Sometimes they just look really sad and depressed and nobody can figure out what’s going on,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is catch situations before they become severe. Most people who [commit] suicide never seek help.”

Barrio directed readers to refer students to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org/Learn/WarningSigns for a comprehensive list of suicide warning signs researched and set up by suicidologists. She also encouraged students to call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. The UNT CARE team can be contacted at 940-565-4373.

Feature photo courtesy of Mohammad Khan

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