College of the Canyons wants to help remove the stigma of suicide and encourage open discussion among students with the Suicide Prevention and Awareness Event on April 29 and 30.
In order to address reports of suicide among college students across the nation, the College of the Canyons Student Health and Wellness Center is hosting a Suicide Prevention and Awareness Event on the Valencia campus.
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The two-day event will be held both Tuesday, April 29 and Wednesday, April 30 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Honor Grove in the middle of campus.
Three COC students committed suicide last year, said Larry Schallert, assistant director of the Student Health and Wellness Center.
“We know if we could actually reach out to students, …we could prevent it or at least prevent most of them,” he said.
Wellness Center staff and local mental health resources will be available with information about the services they provide and the options that are available to people contemplating suicide or those who want to help someone who is suicidal.
Kathleen Snyder, a nationally known speaker and suicidology expert will be speaking on April 29 from 1 to 2 p.m. in Aliso Hall, Room 101.
Snyder lost her husband to suicide 30 years ago and has since dedicated her life to teaching others how to handle crisis and help those who are at risk for suicide.
There is hope and help, she said, both in counseling a suicidal person and in the aftermath of suicide.
The key is to focus on a victim’s life and not their death, Snyder said: “We tend to get stuck on how a person died, and we forget how they lived.”
The goal of COC’s event is to help remove the stigma and allow people to talk opening about suicide.
The tide is changing in that direction, Snyder said.
“We have a momentum building in a way that I haven’t seen here in California, ever,” she said.
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“The information and resources being provided at this event, while focused on college students, apply to everyone,” said Frances Willson, clinical psychologist at the Health and Wellness Center. “Many people will never seek out the help they need because of the stigma attached to it. Hopefully events like this will help change that.”
As a visual representation of the social issue of suicide, the Honor Grove will also be filled with 1,100 lanterns — each representing a college student that has died by suicide in the United States during the past year.
At 5 p.m. on April 29, those lanterns will be illuminated and left on display through the night to provide students, college staff and community members with a visual reminder.
These events are made possible with grant funding provided by the California Mental Health Services Authority and the voter-approved Mental Health Act, Prop 63.
CalMHSA is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Prevention and Early Intervention programs implemented by CalMHSA are funded through Prop 63.
To learn more about the Suicide Prevention and Awareness Event and the services provided by the Student Health and Wellness Center, click here or call 661-362-3259.
Source: Santa Clarita News