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Texas A&M University is recognizing National Suicide Prevention Awareness month with a series of activities during September. A kickoff event, hosted by Texas A&M University Health Services – Suicide Awareness & Prevention Program, took place Sept. 6 at Rudder Plaza. During the event, Texas A&M students created signs with messages of hope, received beads to wear in support of suicide prevention, listened to guest speakers and learned about resources available at Texas A&M and within the local community. Throughout the monthlong initiative, other events will include Coffee with a Counselor and “Breathe In, Stretch Out” Yoga, a returning event conducted in partnership with Texas A&M Rec Sports and Stark Galleries.
Since 2000, Texas has seen a 56.9 percent increase in suicide mortality rates for individuals ages 20-24, according to an updated Report on Suicide and Suicide Prevention in Texas released by Texas Health and Human Services in January 2023. Across all ages, the report states, the suicide mortality rate has increased by 36.7 percent.
“Students may feel alone in their struggle with mental health or suicidal thoughts,” said Sterling LaBoo, health educator for University Health Services. “We want them to know that there is a place for them to get help. We also want to empower these students to support one another.”
Occurring in tandem with National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Suicide Awareness Month at Texas A&M underscores a need for increased knowledge of resources and support, as many students struggle to know where to turn when in distress, LaBoo said.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, self-care and physical activity play a role in caring for one’s mental health. Returning events like “Breathe In, Stretch Out Yoga” and the four-week Suicide Awareness Walk Challenge round out a varied itinerary that acknowledges the importance of self-care. The walk challenge, specifically, is an opportunity for students throughout The Texas A&M University System to participate and collaborate with AgriLife Extension’s Walk Through Texas History program. These varied events and partnerships allow University Health Services to provide a complete array of support options for students.
“Implementing this expanded lens gives Texas A&M University an opportunity to take a more holistic approach to our resources, events, wellness and suicide prevention on campus,” LaBoo said.
The Brazos County Commissioners Court proclaimed September as Suicide Awareness Month on Aug. 8.
“Texas A&M University Health Services is grateful to join the Brazos County commissioners in declaring September as National Suicide Prevention Month in Brazos County,” said Michelle Bettin, senior director of counseling and mental health care at Texas A&M University Health Services. “We invite everyone to join us to raise awareness about actions we can take to help save lives and to connect individuals struggling and those impacted by this leading cause of death with the support they need.”
To learn more about the scheduled activities for Suicide Awareness Month, visit the Texas A&M University Health Services website.
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