(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus held an event on Tuesday, Sept. 12, to recognize Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and familiarize students with the counseling and mental health resources that TSTC provides.
Shanta Williams, a counselor for TSTC, recently answered some questions about suicide, mental health, and what to be aware of.
What are some of the key things that people should be aware of about suicide?
The risk factors are important: feelings of hopelessness, if they’ve had any kind of alcohol or substance misuse, if they have any mental health disorders or personality disorders, if they are experiencing any kind of major physical illness or chronic pain, if they have a history of trauma, … and then also job or financial loss.
If you recognize the signs of someone possibly at risk, what are the next steps?
If someone is talking about suicide or displaying some of those signs, ask them about it. Just be direct. Ask them if they have a plan of harming themselves. Oftentimes the survivor will feel a sense of relief that someone saw them.
Secondly, be there. Oftentimes you don’t have to say anything. Just being there and being a listener, giving them support and showing them love, are the things that they need in that moment.
Then I would also say, keep them safe. Make sure that you’re limiting their means. So if you find out that someone is struggling with this, then make it difficult for them to harm themselves.
Helping them reach out to a counselor, or a mental health provider or crisis center, that’s how you can be the most effective in getting them help or treatment. And then just following up with them, you know, once they have received services or have started some kind of treatment, (and) being a support for them during that process.
How can we help get rid of the stigma about counseling and reaching out for help?
Be mindful about language around someone who is struggling or someone in a crisis situation, or someone who desires to reach out for counseling. Instead of looking at that as a weakness or as a negative, look at it as a positive, that they recognize that something is going on with them, or someone around them recognizes something that’s going on with them, and wants to be there to support them and get them the help and the treatment they need.
What is your advice for students experiencing the stress and anxiety that can come from being a college student?
It’s OK to need help, and it’s OK to ask for help. Although you might not know who the specific person is to ask for help, those people who you’re connected with — your enrollment coach, your instructors, the people that you see on a day-to-day basis — those are good individuals to ask.
In fiscal year 2023, TSTC’s Counseling and Mental Health Services department provided over 1,900 counseling sessions and worked with over 375 students statewide. The services are free to current TSTC students. Counselors may be available to meet in person, virtually or via telephone.
If you know someone who may be at risk of suicide, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number is 988.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.