Lafene urges community to help one another, promote suicide prevention during awareness week

Counseling Services recently merged with Lafene Health Center to form Lafene CAPS — Counseling and Psychological Services — located in the lower level of Lafene. (Archive photo by Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group)

Many people across the nation have seen the effects of suicide, especially among high school and college students. Lafene Health Center recognizes the issue and hopes to bring awareness to Kansas State students and staff during Suicide Prevention Awareness Week.

“According to the CDC, in the nation, suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States of America and … the second leading cause of death in America for people ages between 15 and 24,” Chris Bowman, director of the Morrison Family Center for Student Well-Being, said.

There are opportunities throughout the week for community members to learn more about the Green Bandana project, a mental health awareness campaign on campus, and take part in its training.

“I think it is important because we want to teach people some signs of distress or mental disorder,” Bowman said. “The bandana project is a suicide awareness and prevention campaign that our departmental student organization ‘Thrive Navigators’ picked up on last year.”

Training sessions provide students with a toolbox of skills to guide conversations about helping others and how to find help within the community.

“The training is about how to listen, how to ask appropriate questions and then how to assess somebody’s needs and where they need to get help at,” Bowman said.

The Green Bandana project will host a training session at 6 p.m. on Sept. 9 in the Big 12 Room at the K-State Student Union. The workshop is open to all faculty, staff, students and anyone else in the community.

Along with training opportunities, advocates for Suicide Prevention Awareness Week from Thrive are offering postcards to give people the chance to thank someone and have it mailed on their behalf.

“Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., our Thrive Navigators will be set up on Bosco Plaza with postcards with messaging on it that students can fill out,” Bowman said.

Bowman said these notes let students show someone their appreciation, as well as spread optimism on campus.

“I know when someone tells me ‘Thank you,’ it feels good,” Bowman said, “but I also know that when I tell someone ‘Thank you,’ it makes me feel really good too. It is just a way to show appreciation and for students to build optimism.”

Suicide Prevention Awareness Week runs Sept. 5-11. Those seeking professional help can reach out to Lafene CAPS from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. A hotline for mental health consultation is available even when closed by calling 785-532-6927.