Counselor says suicide can be prevented

You might save a life just by asking a question, said Jenna Howard, a mental health counselor at OCCC. In fact, reaching out to a fellow student may be all it takes to save them.

Howard spoke recently at a Brown Bag luncheon workshop entitled “How to Save a Life” as a part of Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week. The event covered topics that might help students learn to identify, reach out, and help someone who might be suicidal. The event aimed to empower students to be proactive in the lives of people who might be thinking about harming themselves.

With suicide as the second leading cause of death among college students, it is not something to be taken lightly, she said.

Students who attended the talk, which lasted less than an hour, became certified QPR gatekeepers by learning to follow three simple steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. QPR stands for question, persuade and refer, Howard said.

First off, she said, if you notice someone seems depressed or you know that they are at risk, ask if they are OK. Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis. Take the time to talk to an at-risk individual about how they are feeling, Howard said. After you have talked to an at-risk individual, persuade that person to get help. Offer to go with them if they want.

Sam Chun, an EMT student who attended the event, said he felt the class was beneficial and the statistics were interesting, but he would have liked to learn more about campus counselling, and the programs OCCC offers for individuals at risk.

Many students are unaware OCCC offers free counseling and support to anyone who may need it. OCCC Student Support Services and counselors maintain a strong referral network of licensed professional counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists in the surrounding community for students who wish to seek long-term therapy off campus, Howard said.

If you notice an at-risk individual, you should not hesitate, Howard said..

For more information on QPR, suicide prevention, or to talk with a counselor, contact Student Support Services at 405-682-7520

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