Kat Chat discusses suicide warning signs, prevention

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Representatives from Kansas State’s Counseling Services and the Student Access Center hosted a Kat Chat presentation Tuesday for students on suicide prevention and the warning signs, titled “Below the Surface: Suicide Awareness and Prevention.”

The Kat Chat was hosted by Paige Humphrey, senior in biology, and Sammie Hillstock, senior in human development and family science. Humphrey stressed the importance of starting the conversation with the person who you may feel is considering suicide and noticing the risk factors of suicide.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among college students, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. A study done in 2012 by the SPRC reports about 6.6 to 7.5 percent of college students consider suicide. With the Kansas State student population of 25,000, that means about 1,600 to 1,800 students consider suicide at K-State alone, Humphrey said.

“You can look at a national average or percent, but comparing the statistic that 6.6 to 7.5 percent of college students consider suicide to the K-State student population, those are the statistics that are more hard-hitting and personal than just seeing a percent,” Kirsten Prindle, sophomore in biological systems engineering, said.

Some of these risk factors include depression, anxiety, substance abuse and chronic health and pain, Humphrey said.

“If you’re constantly in pain— if you had a paper cut that never stopped stinging that would affect your life — and people with chronic pain start thinking, ‘What’s the point of living if I’m in pain all the time?'” Humphrey said.

Humphrey said warning signs to look for in a friend that might be suicidal include drug or alcohol abuse, aggression, change in sleep patterns and differing social habits.

“It’s very common to think that asking if someone is thinking about hurting themselves might make the situation worse,” Humphrey said. “But it is actually a very important conversation to have.”

Humphrey said it is important to have that conversation with loved ones if it is possible they might be in danger of hurting themselves.

“Having the conversation with your friend is the number one thing I want K-State students to take away from this,” Humphrey said. “The word suicide is not taboo; it is okay to talk about. If you address it head-on, it is more likely that they will be honest and open up and be able to get help.”

Other steps to starting the conversation and helping the person is suicidal include remaining open and nonjudgemental, establishing a safe environment and encouraging healthy habits, Humphrey said.

Humphrey also said knowing your local and national resources for suicide prevention is very important. In Manhattan, resources include the Via Christi emergency room and Counseling Services.

K-State Counseling Services will be hosting a Campus Walk on Saturday, April 14 at Bosco Plaza from noon to 2 p.m. to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention. Registration is free and open to all students and the Manhattan community.

“It’s a great walk for everyone to come together and show solidarity for suicide prevention,” Hillstock said.

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