Suicide Prevention Should Not Be Taboo
Did you know that HUNDREDS of people in Madison County, Alabama commit suicide each year??? Most people are startled to learn of this statistic, because suicides are always so “hush hush.” We can, as a society, talk about sex, sell sex toys on television, watch wars being fought, murders being committed, and all sorts of other distasteful things, but this is like the last taboo. People do not want to openly discuss mental illness, depression or suicide.
A few years ago my daughter was the obituary writer for UA’s newspaper, The Crimson White. She became alarmed at the 4th suicide in one semester, and thus she decided to do some investigating. Was this an unusually high number of suicides? Why was the University seemingly hiding the suicides, instead of trying to direct students to counseling?
Her article upset a counselor at the Counseling Center there, and he tried to persuade her not to publish it. Her two part series did much to bring this disturbing topic into the limelight, and now they appear to have a better perception on how to deal with the subject.
A year or so after my daughter’s articles were published, my son had a roommate (not a friend from back home, but an assigned roommate in a quad in the Honor’s Dorm) who kept threatening suicide. The police would come and awaken them in the middle of the night, because that young man would call them threatening to kill himself. He was many hundreds of miles away from home, and having a hard time adjusting to college life. The police would set him up appointments at the Counseling Center, but he would fail to show up, so they would have to come and look for him.
Never one to seek counseling of any sort, my son felt the need to try to ascertain what he and his fellow roommates should do in this awkward situation. When he and one of the other roommates went to the Counseling Center, they asked what they should do if the young man threatened suicide again, or if he actually attempted it. The Counselor’s unbelievable reply? “Well, if he does kill himself, then you would get all A’s for the semester, and get two weeks off of classes.”
Attached are links to my daughter’s articles that appeared in The Crimson White. I hope you will read each of them. They contain good information and advice from reputable sources, and true stories of suicides. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please get help! There is no shame in asking for help!!!
– Lou Lehman Sams