Professor researches suicide treatment methods, how to combat the suicide epidemic

Joyce Baptist, associate professor of family studies and human resources, has researched suicide treatments since 2006. (Hannah Greer | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: This article deals with the topic of suicide. If you are struggling with feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

In 2017, over 47,000 Americans took their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High schools and college campuses around the country are trying to combat this problem in different ways to save lives.

Joyce Baptist, associate professor of family studies and human resources, has researched suicide treatments since 2016.

“I had multiple extended family members that lost their lives to suicide — my family was completely blindsided by the experience.” Baptist said.

Baptist began to look into research regarding the issue.

“I started looking at effective treatments for suicide to see what is available, and I realized we don’t do very much,” she said. “We do a lot of assessments, but there’s no treatment of the root cause for suicide.”

Baptist leads a research team investigating possible treatments for suicide. The study’s subjects are college students and members of the Manhattan community.

The study researches how cognitive behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing can be used to treat people with suicidal thoughts.

“What we have found so far is that both treatments are effective in reducing the intensity of suicidal thoughts,” she said. “The difference is that one brings down the intensity much faster.”

Baptist’s research team aided in providing 40 people with treatment of suicidal thoughts and continues to provide community support.

Participants in the study undergo free treatment and counseling. Participants receive 10 sessions in under five weeks and can attend follow-up appointments afterward.

“The treatment can be used for anyone, not just K-State students, since the research has covered such a wide range of people from age, gender and sexual orientation,” Baptist said.

Baptist said she encourages all students struggling with suicidal thoughts to reach out.

“We need to normalize suicidal thoughts when you have stress in your life, whether it’s academic stress, the stress of losing a family member, failed romantic relationships or a failed relationship — these events can trigger suicidal thoughts,” she said. “They don’t have to live life like that.”