Choosing between living, dying

Because of the sensitive nature of this story the subject’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

Depression, excessive drinking, out cries of, “I want to kill myself,” or giving away sentimental and monetary items are some of the warning signs and indicators of a person that is suicidal said Harold Ford, interim director of the counseling center at FAMU.

Jackie, a sophomore pharmacy student at FAMU, said she knows all to well what it feels like to be suicidal.

“[A suicidal person] feels lonely, unloved, and that nobody listens to them,” said Jackie, 19, who described herself as being maniacal and estranged during her battles with suicide. “I just felt that since people think I don’t exist anyways, because they treat me like I don’t, then I might as well not exist.”

The loss of her grandfather, her best friend moving away and a fight with her younger brother contributed to her condition. In addition, a rocky relationship with her roommates and a disappointing fall semester, led Jackie to three attempts of suicide.

She described one of those instances.

“I locked myself in my room, I got a knife, and I was cutting my hair, and just got a little too close to my scalp, and I tried to stab myself in the side of the head,” she said.

Ford said,”The last three years I’ve been here there’s been a suicide every year by a FAMU student and in the year 2000 there were two suicides in which [students either] shot themselfves [or] overdosed,” said Ford, who has served 15 years as a drug counselor at FAMU.

In relation to the statistics that indicate an increase of suicide in the black community, Ford said basic values and support systems constitute the main cause.

“Our neighborhoods aren’t as coherent as they once were. People find themselves more isolated, and there’s a stigma about getting mental health help,” Ford said. “A stigma so great that, historically, rich folks went to counselors while poor folks went to jail for their counseling.”

Kylan Chavious, a 20-year-old sophomore industrial engineering student from Durham, N.C. said if a friend told him that they were going to commit suicide and did, he would feel partially responsible for not getting them help.

“I feel that the increase in suicide rates among blacks is detrimental to our race as a whole. The more the suicide rate increases the more we decrease,” Chavious said.

Jackie, who realized she could have been another statistic, wants to seize this opportunity to reinvent herself.

“I want to make it so that’s my last attempt (at suicide), because that’s not something I want to be known for,” Jackie said. “[I don’t want people to say] ‘oh that’s the girl that when life gets too hard she tries to end it by taking her life.'”

For more information on mental health topics contact the Center For Human Development at 599-3145 or visit the office located in Sunshine Manor.

Contact Samuel R. Fleemings at