This archived article was written by: Seth Richards
Campus and community mental health specialists gathered at the Helper Civic Auditorium on March 7 to discuss the plague of suicides and murder-suicides in our community.
According to the latest available statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, 1.1 of every 10,000 people commit suicide annually. The communities of Price, Helper and Wellington have a combined population of more than 11,000 according to 2011 estimates. According to Darrin Brandt, director of the USU Eastern counseling and disability resource center, among the three communities there was an average of one suicide per week November through January.
This staggering number of people purposefully killing themselves puts Carbon County between the Republic of Korea and the Danish Province of Greenland for suicides in that time period. More statistics about suicide and prevention can be found through the National Institute of Mental Health and the American College Health Association- National College Health Assessment www.acha-ncha.org.
Nothing definitive was decided at the meeting except for the need to raise awareness and heighten prevention of suicide.
“There are behaviors that the industry has studied. You see a pattern with those who are successful at suicide in the last seven days.” According to Brandt, “They have their issues settled. They seem more confident and feel good when everything previously was in turmoil for them. They tend to start making amends with people that they had been in fights with or upset with. The also tend to start giving things away.”
USU Eastern students are afforded more preventative measures, being isolated within the community with access to free mental counseling and a small enough community that help can be given on a more personal level.
“We don’t wait to intervene with students.” Says James Prettyman, campus director of public safety, “We look for signs of depression; demeanor of the person; are they loners? There’s all sorts of different signs to be looking for and early intervention puts us apart from the rest of the area.”
Members of the campus community are encouraged to attend a mental health awareness forum in the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center on Thursday, March 21 to learn more about signs and prevention of suicide. Encouragement is also given to intervene if anyone knows students who meet the criterion of potential suicide risks.