by Vincent Buffa, Guest Blogger
As a college student, suicide wasn’t something that I knew a great deal about. However, having spent time as an intern with the Jordan Porco Foundation, things have changed. Now I understand how important it is to make suicide prevention and taking care of your mental health part of your everyday life. I wish I knew more about it earlier in my college days, but I’m thankful I can help educate others about it going forward.
When you’re on a team
Having been a member of a sports team, I know how important it is to have a team for support in life. Once you join a team, you end up quickly meeting a bunch of people—your new teammates. It’s not just going to practice with them. This group of people becomes the people you hang out with, go out with, and watch March Madness with. In class, they are the people that you’re in group projects with.
Suicide prevention is in large part about recognizing risk factors. If you notice that a teammate has stopped coming to practice, check in. If you notice that they are talking about feeling trapped in life and want to escape (i) or say that they have no reason to live, ask them about it. If you notice a change in mood or behavior, you have the power to help them out. As a teammate, you have the ability to identify these warning signs (ii) and potentially save a life.
You are there for your teammate on the field and off. Make sure that they know that and can turn to you when they’re struggling. Make sure that you make them feel safe and give them the ability to share, without judgment.
It is a fact that most young adults (this including most of your teammates) who attempt or die by suicide have communicated their distress or plans to at least one other person (iii). Since you are spending all this time together, there is a good chance that you could be that person.
I wish I knew all of this sooner. I was lucky that my teammates didn’t show these signs. But maybe there were signs and I just didn’t have the knowledge I have now to see them? What if I was the one they shared their plans with? What if I recognized that they weren’t treating or sleeping or were isolating (iv) and I didn’t have the knowledge that I do now?
In this post, I used a sports team as an example because of my experiences on a sports team. But this could have easily been my friend’s engineering club, my roommate’s fraternity, or even my group of friends. It can be any group of people. It can be any one person. You don’t even have to know the person you help. While you may not know the person, you should know the warning signs.
What can you do?
One out of every ten college students contemplates suicide (v). This means that there are nine people to help that one at risk. Be one of the nine. Go to www.nineoutoften.org to learn the warning signs of suicide. Take action to save a life. Speak up. Pledge to be aware, speak up, reach out, and #helpsomeone.
Keep your eyes and ears open and reach out to those who may be exhibiting warning signs. Show understanding and be supportive of anyone who may be struggling to let them know they are not alone. Talk openly about mental illness and available treatment.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual author or the Jordan Porco Foundation. You should consult a mental health professional for advice regarding your individual situation.
i Baumeister, R. F. (1990). Suicide as escape from self. Psychological Review, 97(1), 90-113. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.97.1.90
ii American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (2016). Risk factors and warning signs. Retrieved from https://afsp.org/about-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs/
iii American Association of Suicidology. (2014). Myths about suicide. Retrieved from http://www.suicidology.org/resources/myth-fact
iv The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (2016). We can all prevent suicide. Retrieved from http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide/
v Jordan Porco Foundation. (2016). Retrieved from https://nineoutoften.org