By Mary Beth Davis, MS NCC – Counselor, Neumann University Counseling Center for Wellness
In the Zone strives to convey the importance of mental health in the performance and lives of college athletes. Each month, In the Zone, will focus on a mental health issue and how it may affect the student-athlete. In the Zone encourages athletes to talk with their coach, trainer, chaplain or a counselor to learn more about being emotionally, mentally, and physically well.
September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month
A 2018 graduate of Washington State University, Luke Falk was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in college football and he dreamed of being drafted and becoming an NFL quarterback. That dream came true earlier this year when Falk was drafted by the Tennessee Titans and later picked up by the Miami Dolphins. There was a time in Luke’s life when if you asked him, “What matters most in your life?” His response would have been football. But that perspective has changed since in his senior year at WSU, when Luke’s friend, teammate, and back-up quarterback Tyler Hilinski died by suicide. At the NFL Combine in March, Luke said, “I think it [Tyler’s death] really set in what really matters in life and that’s people and relationships.” Since Tyler’s death, Falk has used his platform to promote suicide awareness and prevention and fight the stigma of mental health saying:
For it [suicide] being such a big part of our culture, you never hear it talked about. You never hear people feeling like they’re able to speak openly. We’re in such a masculine culture, people don’t feel comfortable doing it. When suicide is [one of] the leading causes of death of men from 18 to 45 years old, it should be talked about. And we should do something about it. We must change some of that stuff. We have to have resources and not have any more stigma on people going for help.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. In the United States, there is one death by suicide every 12 minutes. According to the National College Health Assessment, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of students suffering from depression and an increase in those thinking about and attempting suicide. It is said that about one student in 12 has a suicide plan.
What can we do?
- Changedirection.org suggests committing to memory and noticing in others the five signs of emotional suffering: 1. Change in personality 2. Agitation 3. Withdrawal 4. Decline in personal care 5. Hopelessness.
- Break the Silence: If you’re worried about someone, say something. “Are you okay?” “Is something wrong?” “Can I help you?” “I noticed . . .” and then listen. If you are suffering emotionally, reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Talk to a friend, your coach, trainer, chaplain, or visit the Counseling Center for Wellness.
- Educate yourself: Attend Neumann’s Suicide Awareness and Prevention events this month.
- Sign up at one of the events for QPR Suicide Prevention Training on Thursday, October 18, 2018 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Space is limited.