To combat stigmas and the lack of awareness about available resources for those affected by mental health issues, Student to Student Peer Counseling held a “suicide survivors” panel and workshop Wednesday night.
Two students were invited to speak before the attendees and share their own experience with mental health and suicide. Before the speakers shared their stories, those in attendance, about 25 people, were urged to think about their own history of dealing with mental health issues. Many of them shared their experiences with depression. The pressures of being at a rigorous university were one of the main causes of anxiety.
Many participants said they either knew someone close to them who had attempted suicide or had attempted suicide themselves. Some of the attendees stressed how they or others could be helped if people would stop trivializing mental health issues that could lead to suicide.
Students then took turns sharing whom they’d most likely contact during an episode of stress. The point of the exercise, said SSPC coordinator Jake Evan, was to show students how many people they have in their “support network.”
“It’s interesting for this campus to have a mental health concern, because outside of our bubble, many don’t think that we would have much to worry about — that we have things under control — but the reality is very different,” said Rachel Croopnick, director of the ASUC mental health coalition.
Mental health issues have become increasingly visible this semester. CalSERVE Senator Briana Mullen hosted town halls earlier this month to brainstorm solutions to common mental health challenges students face, and the parents of Maliq Nixon, who died earlier this year in what his mother called a suicide, claimed at a recent UC Board of Regents meeting that the campus does not provide adequate mental health services.
Many attendees lingered after the event to discuss their own stories with the speakers.
Evan emphasized the importance of having such events to show those suffering from poor mental health how others have overcome their issues while providing a safe space for them to share their own stories.
“I think it does (help) people because the power of someone being honest about a topic like that really frees people,” Evan said. “If someone gets up in a room and talks about something personal that they went through, it can help someone who has been going through similar things and show them ways on how to move past them — something that they can try for themselves.”
The panel was part of SSPC’s Suicide Awareness Week, which included a Tuesday night candlelight vigil to remember those who have passed away in suicides. SSPC will also be tabling all week on Sproul Plaza and Memorial Glade to raise awareness of serious mental health issues and to get students necessary help.