People of UNF: Suicide Prevention Month

Lili Weinstein

Sam Siegel is a business management junior. Photo by Lili Weinstein.
Sam Siegel is a business management junior. Photo by Lili Weinstein.

How do you feel about suicide prevention and Suicide Prevention Month?

“So I don’t really know too much about suicide prevention week or month or how it goes, but I definitely know suicide is a much bigger problem or issue that is more prevalent than more people think about or know about. And so I definitely think to raise awareness of that for people, and to make them aware of how big this actually is, is really big and really huge. And usually it’s a closet issue — something that people don’t feel comfortable talking about or that it’s a very deep secret that they do not feel very open to usually talk about and can confess with somebody or confide in somebody.”

What do you think makes those who have a mental illness worried about confiding in others?

“Judgement, mainly. For the most part, the judgement of, “Oh, you’re one of those people,” and be associated with the people who want to take their life. So I imagine they feel people think less of them for wanting to do that.”

 

Eric Munzer is a sophomore studying psychology. Photo by Lili Weinstein.
Eric Munzer is a sophomore studying psychology. Photo by Lili Weinstein.

What do you think, if anything, can be done to erase the stigma around mental illness?

“I think we just need more education, because so many people think mental illness is like depression and bipolar that you can just self diagnose I guess, if that makes any sense. I feel like they’re used too loosely when they are mental disorders. And it sucks because there are people who actually do deal with those kinds of disorders, but some people just claim to have them. I don’t know. There just needs to be more education to differentiate between what it is and what it isn’t.”

Do you think Suicide Prevention Month is an important step in erasing the stigma?

“I think it’s a good step, but I don’t know. It’s good to be aware, but I don’t really think suicide prevention month — it’s helping — but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, just because people should always get recognition for the battles they’re going through. I don’t think we should just choose one month, you know? I think the media should address it whenever they see fit, not during a designated month.”

 

 Zachary Fanton is a junior majoring in international studies. Photo by Lili Weinstein.
Zachary Fanton is a junior majoring in international studies. Photo by Lili Weinstein.

Is mental illness something that needs to be talked about more?

“I do think it is, but there’s some people who have suicidal tendencies may not come out or talk about it. And it can be hard to spot someone who is going through that, because people might lie about it.”

Why do you think they wouldn’t talk about it?

“I guess, I would say maybe because there’s baggage that comes with it, you know? As soon as they [talk about it], they might feel an overwhelming attention coming to them. If they say they have suicidal thoughts, their friends and families might all try to help them and it could get overwhelming, even if they need the help. There might be other reasons, like they feel nobody would understand their point of view or where they’re coming from exactly. They might feel misunderstood.”

 

(Left to right) Shannon Hogan is a sophomore studying exercise science, Tori Somsak is a junior studying finance, and Emily Spencer is a sophomore studying international business. Photo by Lili Weinstein.
(Left to right) Shannon Hogan is a sophomore studying exercise science, Tori Somsak is a junior studying finance, and Emily Spencer is a sophomore studying international business. Photo by Lili Weinstein.

What’s your perspective of mental illness?

Emily: “I think [depression] is definitely a mental illness in the same way that like cancer or something else is. I don’t think that I personally think of it as any less of an illness. I think when people commit suicide, they’re dying of a disease almost.”

Why do you think people don’t always agree on whether or not it’s akin to other diseases?

Tori: “I think an issue is that there’s still certain stigmas attached to those types of illnesses, and sometimes the media doesn’t portray things as accurately as they should. So I think it just goes to get more awareness out there for those types of diseases.”

“I think people have already had their preconceived notions because of the media, but the media does perpetuate those stigmas because they still portray certain roles as such in the shows.”

What do you think being educated on mental illness means?

Shannon: “I wish that when I was in middle school or high school they would have discussed it more with us, and they really didn’t. Like, I honestly have no idea what a person would feel when they would want to make that choice.”

 

Izabel Angelova is a graduate student studying finance. Photo by Lili Weinstein.
Izabel Angelova is a graduate student studying finance. Photo by Lili Weinstein.

As a grad student, do you have any advice for grad students who might be struggling with mental illness?

“It might feel like you’re adding to your stress or your workload by taking that hour out of your day for yourself, but you really have to. Because, you know, you have your financial health time, your physical health, and you need your mental health time too. And sometimes that can cross over with the time you spend at the gym. Sometimes that means meditating or doing something else just to unload. Mental health is just another part of the health picture. You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control yourself.”

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