People facing suicide deserve respect, not stigma


There is something we need to talk about that we never do: suicide. We must talk about it. We need to. We must change how we think and talk about suicide if we are ever to have a hope of preventing it.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. In fact, according to an American College Health Association study in 2002, 1 in 12 college students has made a suicide plan at some point and 1.5 out of every 100 have attempted it.

Suicide is not committed by wimps who had one bad thing happen to them and “couldn’t deal.” Suicide does not happen because people “didn’t try hard enough” to get better. It does not happen because people were “too weak.” It is not because of “natural selection.” When it happens, we should not be ashamed and look away and should not refuse to acknowledge it or our feelings about it.

Suicide is something that happens to people we know, people we love and dearly care about, people we’ve seen but never spoken to. It happens to people who are White, Black, male, female, poor and rich.

Suicide is something that happens because people are deeply suffering and some fought hard to overcome it, but were instead overcome. It is not something shameful. People who are dealing with suicide and depression do not deserve to feel ashamed or judged. They deserve our respect, our admiration and our help.

Suicide is something that we can all work together to help prevent, if we only allow ourselves to look at it and address it instead of feeling so uncomfortable that we must look the other way.

Tyrel Lee “Tye” Dieball, a Manhattan resident, committed suicide in January of this year. When his mother, Kathy Dieball, was asked what had happened, she simply said, “He took a shotgun and shot himself in the heart with it.” 

She did not hesitate. She was not ashamed.

Pamela Hanson, Tyrel’s cousin, said his suicide motivated her to speak out. 

“It made me realize it’s a lot easier for it to happen to your family,” she said. “You always think it’s not going to happen and then you realize how easy it is to happen.”

Hanson explained that showing people they are loved and cared about could make all the difference. She urges people not to be afraid to ask someone if they’re considering committing suicide, but instead to sit down and let them know you’re not judging them and understand where they’re coming from.

Both Dieball and Hanson feel that the most important thing is to be aware of the signs and know how to act if you notice them. Dieball says that education about suicide and suicide prevention needs to be improved in health care fields and in schools so that everyone is aware of where to go to get help and information.

Dieball helped make sense of the suicide with the poem, “Civil War” by Reverend Weston Stevens. It describes the battle of those considering suicide in terms of a civil war. 

While the young man lost the war, the poem instead focuses on his victories: the bravery and courage he showed on the battlefield, the kindness, thoughtfulness and love he showed for his family and friends. It says that no one can know what kind of suffering someone is going through when they consider suicide, but they deserve respect for fighting the battle and support on the battlefront.

Suicide can no longer be an issue that we turn away from and try to bury. We need to be strong, to address and discuss the issue so that we can save others.

“It would be wonderful if another parent, another family never went through this, but that’s not going to happen,” Dieball said. “All we can do is try to have support for people and not treat people like they’ve done something wrong because family members or friends do this. Not to say nasty comments to people, and just to be kinder to each other about whatever our troubles in life are.”

Nov. 17 is International Survivors of Suicide Day. For those seeking to get involved, there is a national suicide-prevention walk to raise awareness, funds and honor memories of loved ones called “Out of the Darkness.” There isn’t one occurring in Manhattan, but there is always room for one to be organized.

If you are considering suicide, need help with stress or time management, haven’t been feeling like yourself lately or just need someone to talk to, you can visit Counseling Services on campus, located in 232 English/Counseling Services Building, on the second floor. Their phone number is 785-532-6927 and their email is

There is also a national 24/7 phone line to help those considering suicide who need someone to talk to: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cara Hillstock is a sophomore in English and theatre. Please send comments to

If someone you know is showing some of these signs, encourage them to get help:

  • Appearing sad or depressed most of the time
  • Talking or writing about death, suicide, feeling hopeless, trapped or guilty
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Not taking pleasure in favorite activities or things
  • Sudden appearance change (such as going from excessively neat to sloppy, as if they don’t care anymore)
  • Acting impulsively
  • A change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Giving away favorite possessions
  • Trouble concentrating, or falling performance on grades or at a job
  • A sudden cheerful or calm mood after being depressed or sad for a long time (due to having decided on suicide as a “solution”)