Aztecs walk for suicide prevention

Aztecs walk for suicide prevention

by Raquel Herriott

Last Saturday, Staff member from Counseling and Psychological Services, Peer Educators and campus clubs attended the Out of the Darkness 5-kilometer walk hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

More than 1200 attendees gathered at Embarcadero Marina Park North to commemorate the death of loved ones and raise awareness about mental health and to support the development of new and existing programs.

SDSU’s C&PS staff members and Peer Educators participated in the 5-kilometer walk along with members from SDSU’s Active Minds, a nationwide campus based organization for mental health.

“Growing up I always looked up to my two older sisters, so it was hard for me when my oldest sister was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder,” Peer Educator Active, Minds member psychology sophomore Taylor Brenis said. “Seeing the way people judged her and looked down on her was difficult.”

AFSP featured a remembrance tent to display pictures and messages of lost loved ones and walkers were encouraged to wear beads to represent their personal connection to suicide prevention.

“You want to know that you are not alone” AFSP San Diego Area Director Jessica van der Stad said.

After van der Stad lost her father to suicide and her involvement in AFPS gave her reassurance, she said. She found comfort in knowing that she could relate to others people who shared similar experiences, van der Stad said.

The event included a resource fair to inform attendees about various programs, suicide statistics and health plans. Members from SDSU’s Rotaract, a community service based club, provided water and snacks for participants. Nursing senior, Joanne Lam, felt accomplished after donating time to the cause, she said.

“I feel like I made a difference” Lam said.

Peer Educators from other colleges showed support for the event as well. Some came from Mira Costa and UCSD.

“It’s great to see so many college students come out and advocate for a cause like this” said psychology junior and Peer Educator Kaitlyn Holt.

Proposition 63 granted counties, universities, California state universities and community colleges funds for programs through the Mental Health Services Act, according to C&PS psychologist Elizabeth Kingsbury.

Along with all other CSUs, SDSU focuses on suicide prevention, stigma reduction, and peer to peer counseling. Multiple programs are offered through SDSU’s C&PS to advocate the areas of emphasis. These programs include “QPR” training which stands for Question, Persuade and Prefer to promote suicide prevention; mental health first aid for staff members to reduce the stigma and the Peer Educator Program for peer to peer counseling, according to C&PS Peer Educator coordinator Diana Bull and Kingsbury. Kingsbury recommends that all students and staff enroll in QPR training so that they may learn how to detect suicidal behavior.

“There is a huge myth that if someone is suicidal, there is nothing you can do…and that’s not true” Kingsbury said. “Empowering people to know that there is something they can do, something they can say, there are actions they can take and resources available is important.”

Students and staff can contact the C&PS for help, questions, and inquiries about training at 619-594-5220. The suicide hotline is available 24/7 at 888-724-7240 or by visiting www.itsuptous.org.