Spotlight shines on suicide awareness and prevention

As students leave their first 50-minute class for today, at least three people will have committed suicide.

Today marks the fourth day of National Suicide Prevention Week. There is a greater significance for these seven days of awareness because of the recent statistics the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released.

The CDC reported that the suicide rate has increased by 8 percent for people from the ages 10 to 24. Suicide is also the third leading cause of death for that age group. The CDC’s statistics consisted of data collected from 1999 to 2004.

However, the data collected does not reveal the effects of environmental circumstances.

“We believe that there’s now a more urgent need for broader prevention measures that aren’t limited to specific methods of suicide, but rather, focus on underlying causes and address, especially, the needs of use,” said Dr. Ileana Arias, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, on a telebrieing last Thursday.

Richard McKeon, special advisor on suicide prevention from the substance abuse and mental health services administration, said in the telebriefing that in order to fulfill these goals funding is available for states to start suicide prevention programs.

“And in addition, there is also a campus suicide prevention program that focuses on college students,” McKeon said.

Florida A&M University is one of the campuses working on a suicide awareness campaign this week.

“We’re getting ready to

launch a media campaign on suicide prevention,” said Yolanda Bogan, director of Sunshine Manor, FAMU’s counseling center. “What we want to focus on in the campaigning is helping people realize that suicide is preventable and that referring to treatment is crucial.”

Bogan said that suicide awareness is crucial for blacks because they often do not express their suicidal intentions.

“It’s very important for us to be proactive with each other instead of being reactive and waiting on someone to say ‘this is how I’m feeling’,” she said.

Sunshine Manor’s campaign will focus on using the acronym ACT.

ACT covers acknowledging that someone is feeling suicidal, express concern and refer the person to treatment.

Bogan said Sunshine Manor encourages students to come with the friends they are concerned about or those who may be apprehensive about coming to the center.

“When people come then they realize that counseling is not this negative experience that they may have conjured up in their minds,” Bogan said.

However, many students on campus are not aware of the week.

Lakia Scott, a 21-year-old criminal justice student from Tampa said she did not know it was Suicide Prevention Week. Scott knows the importance of suicide prevention. She said one of her friends thought about committing suicide during the summer.

“It was scary,” Scott said. She said they discussed God and her advice for her friend was “not [to] make a permanent decision over a temporary situation.”

Along with Suicide Prevention Week, Sunshine Manor will host an open house on Friday Sept. 14, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. There, students can meet the staff, have refreshments and tour the offices.

“It’s mainly to get people familiar with us while they’re not in a crisis situation, so they can feel more comfortable using our services when the need arises,” Bogan said.

If you feel that you or a loved one needs help, visit for more information about Sunshine Manors’ services, making appointments and even requesting counselors for workshops for their organizations.