By Makenna Brooks

Did you know that suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States? Last year on November 16th, I heard the noise of ear piercing sirens as they sped by my house. I never thought those sirens would be heading to my cousins house. Hours after the ambulance flew by my house, my family got a call saying that my cousin was being life flighted to Maine Med with a slim chance to live. At just 18 years old, my cousin decided to end his life because he thought that was the only way out. After getting the call later that night that he didn’t make it, my world was forever changed. It gives me endless pain to think that he thought the only answer was to end his life. I continuously ask myself, how someone can be so selfish to end their life

and leave their loved ones to suffer. I have taken the time to educate myself on suicide as well as watch various documentaries on suicide. Entering my sophomore year of college, I thought it would be in everyone’s best interest to find out how many people can successfully identify one who is suicidal.

Video after video I watched, the people who survived an attempted suicide that they regretting their decision the moment it was done. The number of suicides in the US continue to skyrocket with a current number of 2 million people. With more and more people taking action, it can really influence our society and help people who do not feel like living. One positive influence come from famous rapper Logic who recently came out with his song “1-800-273-8255”. Logic begins his song by telling listeners that he wants to die. He expresses his low points and feels his only way out is to die. At the end of the song he wants to stay alive because life IS worth living. This song is a great way to show people that they are not alone and it is normal to feel sad. With the title of his song being the suicide number, there is hope that this will be engraved in people’s heads and help when in such a situation. I believe that the first step to making a difference comes from the importance of knowing the warning signs of a suicidal person.

The start to preventing suicide is to be aware of specific signs. Suicide is too serious to not take the right precautions. After personally going through a suicide in my family, I’ve been more cautious of my peers around me. I feel that if I was informed of the signs from one who wants to end their life, maybe I would have been able to save my cousin. I kick myself everyday because I feel that I could have done something to prevent my 18-year-old cousin to end his life. If only my family and I had realized the common signs and taken action, he may still be alive.

It is especially common for college students to feel depressed and feel hopeless. Luckily, Bryant has a great counseling service in the unistructure. I know at least 10 of my friends who go to counseling whether it’s to talk about something serious or just because they want to talk to someone and express their thoughts. I grew an interest in finding out how many college kids actually know warning signs. Therefore, a few weeks ago I approached a few of my close friends and asked them if they would be able to notice someone suicidal. Overall, 2:5 of my friends knew few tactics that they thought would be a red flag. One friend said, “I think people should be worried if a person is skipping class and giving their belongings away, it is easier to pick up on if you know the person. One of my friends used to make comments about how he wanted to die so I made him an appointment at the counseling services. I couldn’t tell if he was serious and I didn’t want to risk it”. If someone you know is giving their personal belongings away, that could mean they intend to commit suicide. Now, obviously this doesn’t always indicate desire of suicide but why take the chance. After the death of a family member, I have realized that life is too short and if you have to second-guess something, you should probably act on it because if you don’t you may regret not helping that person. More signs of someone suicidal is someone that is skipping class, getting poor grades and not taking care of themselves.

As I continued to ask around for advice, the ratio seemed to stay the same. At the end of my experiment, I met 4:10 people that had a clear view of a suicidal person that is less than 50%. One other person that was up to par with the warning signs had a more personal experience with a friend who almost killed herself. She explained that if she did not notice the warning signs, her friend probably would not have been alive. She continued by saying, “I’m lucky to have been educated on suicide warnings and I continue to live my life and help others that are going through what my friend did. Nothing feels better than knowing you saved a precious life”.

Overall, suicide is something that should not be taken lightly. At this point in age, we can’t sit back and tell ourselves it won’t happen to a family member but what happens if it does? With the correct actions taken for someone that is in need, you could save a life. No one should suffer alone. I cannot stress enough the importance of not taking a chance. If you even have a single thought that they could possibly be suicidal, don’t wait! If you have taken anything away from this, I hope that every one of you can be able to be more aware of the signs and be a helping hand for your peers. For the many out there that are faced with depression and anxiety, you are NOT alone. Don’t wait until you’re having suicidal thoughts. The best thing you can do is talk to a counselor, a friend, family member or ever a professor. As Luke Richardson said, “We need to change the culture of this topic and make it OK to speak about mental health and suicide”.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number
Call 1-800-273-8255