MCC observes National Suicide Prevention Month

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published September 16, 2019

 Pairs of shoes representing the approximately 1,100 college students who commit suicide each year in the U.S. were on display Sept. 8-14 at Macomb Community College’s South Campus in Warren. The exhibit is known as “Stomp Out Suicide.”

Pairs of shoes representing the approximately 1,100 college students who commit suicide each year in the U.S. were on display Sept. 8-14 at Macomb Community College’s South Campus in Warren. The exhibit is known as “Stomp Out Suicide.”

Photo by Maria Allard

MACOMB COUNTY —The dozens of pairs of shoes on display at Macomb Community College’s South Campus in Warren the week of Sept. 8 came with a somber story.

Attached to each pair was a brief biography of a college student who, in recent years, committed suicide or survived a suicide attempt. The “Stomp Out Suicide” display was designed to pay tribute to the approximately 1,100 college students who commit suicide each year in the U.S.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. In an effort to bring awareness to suicide prevention, MCC displayed a number of exhibits and activities on the subject during Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 8-14.

With the help of faculty, MCC psychology professor Karen Wickline organized the events, including workshops, documentary films, open discussions and a Hope & Remembrance Wall. Information was available to those thinking about suicide and to friends and family members of those who know someone who might be.

Student-produced informational posters, flyers, stories, artwork and community resources also were displayed. MCC’s Center Campus in Clinton Township also participated. Students wrote heartfelt messages in chalk around the campuses — “It’s Going To Be OK” and “Yes, You Are Loved” among them.

“The whole purpose is just raising an awareness of this epidemic,” Wickline said. “Talking about it helps prevent suicide. That’s when people feel they can have an open conversation.

“Suicidal thinking is actually far more common than we think,” she continued. “The idea that talking about it puts the idea in someone’s mind is a myth. If there is a person here that is struggling, they then get the appropriate help they need.”

“Suicide isn’t about dying,” said Nancy Buyle, chair of the Macomb County Suicide and Prevention Coalition. “It is about people wanting to get out of intolerable and unimaginable pain.”

Suicide affects people of all ages and walks of life. People want to end their lives for various reasons. Some are dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues. Some individuals who contemplate suicide might be dealing with physical health issues or financial problems or feel they are a burden to others. Wickline said anyone going through a transitional time, such as starting college and becoming a young adult, can feel distressed.

Wickline and Buyle want people to know that if they are feeling suicidal, through countless resources, help is available.

“We can help them talk out loud about what they think is unbearably painful,” said Buyle, who is also the Macomb Intermediate School District’s safe schools/student assistant consultant. “It gives those who have suicidal thoughts an opportunity to get them out other than suffering in silence. There’s no coming back once you die by suicide.”

Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends, professionals or a support group. There is hope.

“Ask for help,” Wickline said. “There are tons of resources in the community. It’s not always an easy fix. Every situation is different. Everyone’s story is different.”

One way to receive help is through the Macomb County Crisis Center by calling (586) 307-9100. Trained counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week who will listen to concerns, explore available options and offer information about community services. All services are free of charge. Buyle said the Macomb County Crisis Center is able to conduct follow-up phone calls with callers.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (or 8255) is another organization to call if you or a loved one is feeling suicidal. There is also a crisis text line by texting “TALK” to 741741 to communicate with someone.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a list of warning signs to look out for if someone is thinking of taking their own life. They include talking about wanting to die or kill oneself, looking for a way to kill oneself (such as searching online or buying a firearm), and talking about feelings of hopelessness or having no reason to live.

Other warning signs include talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain, talking about being a burden to others, increasing the use of alcohol or drugs, acting anxious or agitated, behaving recklessly, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawing or feeling isolated, showing rage or talking about seeking revenge, and displaying mood swings.

The Macomb County Suicide Prevention Coalition, or MCSPC, is holding many suicide prevention programs this month as well.

One is a viewing of the film “Ripple Effect” at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at Fitzgerald High School, 23200 Ryan Road in Warren. The documentary tells the story of Kevin Hines, who at age 19 attempted to kill himself by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. He survived and shares his story to help others who are struggling to stay alive and find recovery. To register, visit events.misd.net.

On Sept. 27, from 2 to 3 p.m. at Harbor Oaks Hospital, 35031 23 Mile Road in New Baltimore, is Veterans Suicide Prevention: Operation SAVE. The event is limited to 60 seats. To register, visit eventbrite.com/d/mi-new-baltimore/events-this-month.