MU's Suicide Prevention Week follows incidents at Rutgers, Texas

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 | 6:03 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — MU is staging its first Suicide Prevention Week to call attention to an issue that may not be widespread on campus but still affects college students here and nationwide.

The event, which will run Nov. 6-12, follows media attention on a few high-profile cases on college campuses, including incidents at the University of Texas and at Rutgers University.

Suicide Prevention Week

Here's a rundown of the events for Suicide Prevention Week, which runs Nov. 6-12 at MU.

  • 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday: Stomp Out Stigma 5K run at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.
  • 8 to 9:30 p.m., Monday: A presentation by Sally Spencer-Thomas titled “Be a Shining Light of Hope” in the Stotler Lounge at Memorial Union.
  • 7 to 9:30 p.m., Tuesday: Screening of the movie “The Bridge” in Chamber Auditorium, Center for Student Involvement.
  • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday: An event titled “The Arts Unmasked” in Stotler Lounge. Participants will be given the opportunity to create a mask and celebrate unmasking the stigma of mental illness.
  • 2 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday and noon to 1 p.m. Friday: "Question, Persuade and Refer" training sessions to teach participants how to talk to someone who is having suicidal thoughts. Wednesday sessions in the Gus T. Ridgel Room, Memorial Union South 204; Friday sessions in the Eyler Family Room, Memorial Union South 110.

Suicide is often referred to as the second leading cause of death among all college students in the nation, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center in Newton, Mass. A 2009 study by the MU Wellness Resource Center found that 15.6 percent of students at MU thought about suicide during the past year.

Prevention week has been partially organized by Kelly Sheline, the suicide prevention graduate assistant at the wellness center. She said MU has provided some services but nothing reaching the entire student body.

“There have been kind of a few awareness events but really none that generated any press or attention and certainly not anything that a lot of students attended,” Sheline said. “There was never a better time to make suicide prevention a part of the conversation at MU."

The week has five separate events, which are listed in detail on the MU student involvement website.

“I’d say that the goal of the whole week is to raise awareness about the problem of college suicide since most people are not aware that it is such a huge issue, and also to encourage those who may be suffering from mental health issues or suicidal thoughts to really seek help,” Sheline said.

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