The Health & Wellness Center will host a Suicide Prevention Awareness Event designed to provide students and community members with access to important mental health resources, while bringing attention to the staggering amount of college students who commit suicide each year.
The two-day event will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday May 7, and Wednesday May 8, in the COC Valencia campus Honor Grove.
As a visual representation of the social issue of suicide, the Honor Grove will be filled with empty white chairs — each representing a college student that has committed suicide in the past year.
“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, with an estimated 1,100 U.S. college students ending their lives by suicide each year,” said Dr. Frances Willson, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at the college’s Health & Wellness Center. “To hear this number is shocking, but to see it visually represented can have a dramatic impact on the viewer, and hopefully help spread awareness about the steps that can be taken to prevent future suicides.”
In addition, staff from the college’s Health & Wellness Center and other local mental health agencies will be present throughout the two-day event to distribute information about suicide prevention, coping with depression and how to access other key mental health care resources, both on campus and in the community.
A number of guest speakers have also been invited to the event, with the following presentations scheduled:
“Suicide Awareness/Prevention” — 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, in Aliso Hall, Room 104.
“LGBTQ Stigma” — presented by Rosanna Santos, Marriage and Family Therapist, at 3 p.m. Wednesday May 8, in Aliso Hall, Room 104.
“Healthy Coping” — presented by Dr. Darlene Mininni, author of “The Emotional Toolkit,” from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 8 (location to be determined).
During the event attendees can also pre-register to attend a free mental health first aid (MHFA) training seminar and certification course, being held at the Valencia campus June 27-28.
“The information and resources being provided at this event, while focused on college students, apply to everyone,” said Willson. “Many people will never seek out the help they need because of the stigma attached to it. Hopefully events like this will help change that.
“Reaching out to help yourself, or to help someone else, will never do more harm than good,” added Willson.
These events are made possible with grant funding provided by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) and the voter-approved Mental Health Act (Prop 63).