Monmouth’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) held an outdoor community event in honor of National Suicide Prevention Day on Friday, Sep. 10, bringing awareness to the second-leading cause of death in young adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As students walked in and out of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center, CPS held a table outside on the patio with a display of resources explaining the preventative measures available to students on and off campus. The table was manned by Graduate Assistant of Student Activities Nino Azrumelashvili, students’ point of contact for the event.
“As someone working the event, it is important to keep the balance between highlighting campus resources and maintaining a degree of support and privacy with the students,” said Azrumelashvili.
“Suicide is a stigmatized issue and shedding light on that issue can not only help remove that stigma, but also facilitate an environment where students can come forward without fear of ridicule.”
One of the coordinators for the event, Chris McKittrick, Psy.D., LPC, explained that the University’s mission for suicide prevention has evolved over the years during his time as Associate Director of CPS.
“What began as a one-time event during the semester is now a year-long initiative to get students the help they need,” said McKittrick.
One of the more sustainable movements perpetuated by McKittrick’s office and the School of Social Work is ConnectWellMU— an online platform connected to the University’s website that allows students easy access to the different health-related resources across various divisions on campus.
McKittrick added, “As students share their stories about mental health with us, we are simultaneously building an online community that makes mental health care that much more accessible and less taboo.”
In addition to ConnectWellMU, CPS partners with other departments on campus, such as the School of Science and the Center for Student Success in an effort to offer students a well-rounded approach in tackling their physical, emotional, and mental needs as they pursue scholastic success at Monmouth.
“The transition to college is already stress-provoking, not to mention other world events students are witness to,” said McKittrick. “However, because of our wholistic approach to mental wellness, we have a practice of referring students to places that can relieve their area of stress and help them face their struggles with professional help.”
Although the COVID-19 outbreak has influenced the way in which CPS has operated in the past year, the center is now offering both in-person and telehealth channels of treatment and communication.
“We are excited to have the option and capability to offer both types of deliveries so as to best serve the student body at large,” said McKittrick.
With CPS’s growth as a resource to students on campus, they are that much more equipped to handle emergency situations, such as suicidal ideations.
“In the event a student feels suicidal, the situation can be handled in a number of different ways.”
McKittrick began, “First, the student can call campus police (MUPD), and an officer will report to the student immediately. This is especially helpful in the event there is an emergency occurring beyond the hours of CPS.”
“Or, if CPS is open, a student could call the office and ask to speak with one of our on-call therapists immediately,” explained McKittrick.
Beyond calling, a student can also walk-in to CPS without any appointment and explain the severity of the situation then and there. Moreover, CPS can connect the student with necessary transportation to and from a hospital.
“This just highlights some of the on-campus resources, let alone what is available off-campus, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255),” explained McKittrick.
“In the end, our goal is for the student to be healthy and successful, and we work with students where they are at to help them in their assimilation into higher education.