By Tea Stewart
September begins the start of National Suicide Prevention month to educate people on mental health in order to bring awareness to the issue of suicide. In the past six years, suicides in high school and college-aged kids have drastically increased. Per year on college campuses, there are approximately 1,100 suicides according to a 2009 study published by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students experience significant amounts of stress from college curriculum, social life, and feelings of loneliness. For this reason, many colleges in the United States are using this time to educate their students and offer any support they have available in an attempt to decrease these suicide rates.
“College is the most stressful environment which is why so many students have mental health problems,” said Morgan Crosby, a sophomore music performance major at Xavier. “Almost all of the college students I know struggle with depression and anxiety,” she added.
Xavier hosted an event on Sept. 12 in their University Center for students to find out what resources are available to them. There were pamphlets about mental health, therapy, and other ways to cope with stress.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 24. Rates of suicide have steadily increased in recent years and this is especially true for the black or African American population. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, between 2016 and 2020 the rate of suicide increased from 5 per 100,000 to 7.7 per 100,000.
“Mental health awareness is especially important at an HBCU because Black students in America are experiencing increased rates of suicidality, depression, and anxiety. It is so important for Xavier students to be able to reach out to get any help that they need,” said Charlé Washington, a leader of the College of Pharmacy Institute for Growth, whose mission is to empower black people to lead full lives by nourishing their mental health.
Black adolescents experience higher rates of mental health problems but are less likely to seek mental health services than their white counterparts according to studies by Thomas A. Vance with Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry. Therapy and other mental health services are crucial in helping people who struggle with their mental health and has been shown to help many people that struggle with mental health disorders. Most college campuses offer services for their students to utilize if they are in need of help.
“It is important to educate students on everything about mental health and make sure that they realize that they have options if they want to learn more or if they need assistance. I want our students to not be afraid to seek help if they need it,” said Victoria Howard, a peer mental health educator with the Counseling and Wellness Center at Xavier.
The Center serves as a resource and offers free counseling services that students can go to as well as health services where students can get check-ups. The center also has information on outside resources that students can utilize, Howard said.
“Something that works for me might not work for the next person so the biggest thing is selfcare and making sure that you are doing the best you can to take care of yourself,” said Rose Vilcin, the founder of the College of Pharmacy Institute for Growth. “Mental health is such an important topic that affects so many of us and it needs to be talked about,” Vilcin said.