Art by Caitlin Roark
One in 10 undergraduate students seriously considered suicide while at Pepperdine from data collected biannually via student survey in Spring 2019 by Connie Horton, vice president of student affairs. Pepperdine needs to be a safer space for those battling thoughts of suicide or even Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) through communication, education and awareness on these subjects.
The human mind is constantly juggling the daily aspects of life. At times it gets cluttered and the lack of major health awareness and resources contributes to acts of suicide and self-harm incidents. Luckily, Pepperdine has the Counseling Center, which has 15 offices to accommodate students’ ever changing mental needs such as group therapy, one-on-one counseling and more.
Improving this safe atmosphere on campus requires the student body and staff to know the signs of suicidal thoughts and the warning signs of NSSI, and to be aware of programs that support those who experience these emotions. Also, to let those who are feeling these emotions that they have a campus of love and support with them.
Some major signs of possible suicidal thoughts include extreme mood swings, isolation, recklessness paired with anxiety, talk about wanting to die and feelings of hopelessness, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
It’s imperative for members of the Pepperdine community to stay vigilant to and aware of these signs and remember to be understanding and compassionate to those who express those signs. As said by Horton, “Stay engaged or don’t ignore and do not assume that others will say something.”
NSSI can be seen in many different ways. Women tend to show physical cutting marks while men typically hit or burn themselves, according to the National Library of Medicine. This is even more true for those apart of the LGBTQ+ community and White people also explained by the National Library of Medicine.
If anyone portrays these examples, never be afraid to reach out, use and support the options on campus. For example, the Student Care Team is available anonymously thorough the LifeSafe app, Horton said.
Also, recommending the Counseling Center or offering to go with others is a great way to help those who may be harboring these thoughts.
“Friends are the number one referral to those who enter the Counseling Center,” Horton said.
Pepperdine also announced its new event RISE, Resilience Informed Skills Education, to help with understanding issues such as suicidal thoughts, clinical depression and non-suicidal self-harm to the Pepperdine community. Moreover, it’s meant to remind students and faculty that no one is alone and everyone is growing to help others with their needs.
Finally, anyone who feels crippling depression, suicidal thoughts or feels ostracized, remember that there is an entire campus willing to love and accept anyone who seeks it. Using Pepperdine’s resources and reaching out helps move others out of that darkness so they can feel loved and accepted.
In the words of Vice President Horton, “Be the person that you would need. You can make a difference by being a part of community. We are in this together, and we are a community that rises together. Most importantly, with a collective effort, you can rise above and come through the darkness.”
Email Anitiz Muonagolu: firstname.lastname@example.org