CAPS Staff: Suicide Is Preventable

By Will Wysocki, PsyD and CAPS staff psychologist 

Did you know there are over 1,000 suicides on college campuses each year?

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. In effort to increase awareness, decrease stigma and reduce shame, Counseling and Psychological Services would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the fact that suicide is preventable.

The first step in prevention concerns acknowledging the risk factors for suicide. Here’s what to look for:

  • Statements about suicide ranging from passive (i.e., “I wish I didn’t exist.”) to active expressions of wanting to end one’s life
  • Increased substance use in the form of alcohol or other drug use
  • Drastic changes in mood
  • Withdrawal from friends and peers
  • Increase in impulsive behaviors
  • Aggressive behaviors (emotionally, physically or otherwise)
  • Preoccupation with death or dying in the form of writing or any other form of self-expression
  • Students who start ignoring coursework, missing class, and appear depressed
  • Intimate partner violence or violence from another loved one
  • Changes in a student’s eating behaviors and/or weight, sleeping patterns, and interpersonal interactions
  • Difficulty with adjusting to sexual orientation and/or gender identity

If you become aware of any of these risks and warning signs, do not hesitate to call CAPS at 402.472.5000. Students can call 24 hours/seven days a week to speak with a counselor. If a student calls after hours, follow the prompts to be connected to an on-call counselor.

Students can also utilize other resources such as UNL Campus Police, reachable from a campus phone at 2-2222 and an off-campus phone or cellphone at 402.472.2222. Another resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

Know the risks and take action. Remember, suicide is preventable.

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Need A Hand? A Support Group Can Help

By Cynthia Von Seggern, PhD, CAPS group and outreach coordinator

College can be a stressful time, but you don’t have to go it alone.

Whether you’re struggling with homesickness, depression, substance use or navigating the campus community as a minority student, a support group may help you.

Support groups bring people together who are facing similar issues so that everyone can share their experience and give or receive advice. It’s a safe space to talk, listen and get the support you need to help you cope with your concerns or situation.

The Benefits

According to the Mayo Clinic, some potential benefits of joining a support group include:

  • Having an opportunity to talk openly and honestly about your feelings
  • Reducing depression, anxiety, fatigue or distress
  • Gaining a sense of control and empowerment
  • Developing a clearer understanding of what to expect in your situation
  • Feeling less lonely, judged or isolated
  • Improving your coping skills and sense of adjustment
  • Getting practical advice or information about treatment options

How To Find A Support Group

  • Check the Counseling and Psychological Services website. CAPS offers support groups for a variety of audiences. They are open only to University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, and most are free. If there isn’t a support group for you, contact CAPS. We may be able to start a new support group or refer you to a group in the community.
  • Ask a doctor or other health care provider. They may be able to recommend a local group for you.
  • Search online. Many support groups are advertised online and on social media. Online participation groups may be available as well.
  • Contact local centers. Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples or community centers in Lincoln may be able to help connect you to a local support group.
  • Ask people you know with similar concerns. If you know someone struggling with the same situation, ask them if they have a support group suggestion.

Get The Most Out Of A Support Group

Joining a support group can be intimidating. You may be nervous about sharing personal issues with people you don’t know. Remember that it’s OK to simply listen at first. Over time, you may feel more confortable sharing your own ideas and experiences. Or are you a first time user of a support group? Try out our Drop-In Support Group where you can ask a CAPS therapist questions, receive support about any area of concern,or learn different tools for managing stress/distress and anxiety.

As beneficial as support groups are, don’t forget that they are not a substitute for regular medical care. Let your doctor or therapist know you’re participating in a support group. If you don’t feel the group is appropriate for you but you need assistance coping with a concern, condition or situation, talk with your doctor about counseling or other types of therapy.

CAPS is here for you. To learn more about us, call 402.472.5000 or visit health.unl.edu/caps.

CAPS Staff: Talk With Us if Recent Events Are Affecting You

By Belinda Hinojos, PhD, provisionally licensed psychologist and Latinx outreach specialist

Philando Castile = No conviction.

Swastika painted on Haymarket building.

17-year-old Muslim girl assaulted and killed after leaving Virginia mosque.

U.K. Police Investigating Van Attack in London as Terrorism.

These were headlines featured on our news feeds this past weekend. With these headlines comes a flood of emotions: sadness, anger, helplessness, some desensitization and even fear.

Fear and threats to safety can drive anxiety, causing us to isolate, be hypervigilant of our surroundings and experience numbness, apathy and anger, all of which have long-term consequences on our emotional, psychological and physical health.

Counseling and Psychological Services recognizes that Nebraska students may be struggling to wrap their minds around the many emotions they are experiencing. We understand this affects all students, but it uniquely affects those from communities directly impacted by these events, especially their sense of safety. We remind students that we are available to sit and talk with you about how you are being affected.

CAPS staff members want you to know that we are committed to our students’ care and safety. We seek to be a safe space, now and always, where students can talk about fears, sadness, or concerns about discrimination, racism or harassment.

Call 402.472.7450 or stop by the CAPS office in the second floor of the University Health Center between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to make an appointment. Walk-in appointments are available if you are in crisis. For after-hours crises, call 402.472.7450 to speak with a therapist.

 

Shedding Light on Suicide Ideation

by Heather Patterson Meyer, PsyD, MAT, clinical psychologist

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 15 to 24, and more than 1,000 suicide deaths occur on college campuses annually, according to the Jed Foundation. White males under 21 and LGBTQ youth are the highest risk groups for suicidal ideation (thoughts about suicide), but anyone can experience those types of thoughts, regardless of race, religion, class or sexual orientation.

These statistics show that this issue cannot be ignored, especially on a college campus like Nebraska. It’s time to commit to learning more so we can help prevent suicide.

Know the warning signs

While there’s no surefire way to predict when or if someone will attempt suicide, there are warning signs that could indicate someone is struggling and needs help or support. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these signs include:

  • Acting recklessly
  • Anxiousness and agitation
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Hopelessness
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Intense anger or seeking revenge
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Talking about being a burden to others or having no sense of purpose
  • Talking about death
  • Withdrawal and isolation

What to do if you are having thoughts of suicide

Get help immediately:

  • Call 911
  • Go to the nearest emergency room, Bryan West (2300 S. 16th St.)
  • Text “START” to 741-741 or call 1.800.273.TALK
  • Call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 402.472.7450 or stop by the office at the University Health Center between 8 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • Call UNL Police at 402.472.2222

You may feel hopeless and that you are beyond help, but it’s important to know that you are not alone. With some support, you can find ways to cope with your problems and the pain can subside.

If you aren’t immediately considering attempting suicide but have had thoughts of death or suicidal ideation, reach out to a friend or family member — someone you can trust. Talking about your feelings can help you feel less overwhelmed and isolated. Make an appointment at CAPS (402.472.7450) as soon as possible, even if you feel it isn’t an emergency. The sooner you find support, the better you may feel.

Remember, even if you no longer have these thoughts or if they come and go, it’s important to seek help as it may be a signal of a more serious underlying issue.

What to do if you are worried about a friend or family member

If you notice someone exhibiting the signs mentioned above, don’t be a silent observer. Your support can be really meaningful to someone struggling with thoughts of suicide.

Here are a few ways you can help them get support and help as soon as possible.

  • Express your concern and ask directly if they have current, recent, or past thoughts of suicide. Bringing up your concern does not give them morbid ideas. In fact, it’s one of the most helpful actions you can take. Bringing it up can help them know they are not alone and that you care about them. It also can help you determine how urgent the need is for help. If they have a specific plan and means to carry out that plan, call 911 and stay with them until help arrives. Not sure how to get the conversation started? Visit helpguide.org for sample questions you can ask.
  • Listen to them and don’t try to problem-solve. People who struggle with suicidal thoughts are often frightened by what they feel. Simply being there for them and comforting them with your presence can make a huge impact. Don’t judge them for what they tell you.
  • Remind them of the truth. Reassure them that treatment can help and that these feelings can get better. Connect them to resources on campus, such as CAPS, or in their community.
  • Get support and guidance. Talk to an RA, RD, academic advisor or someone in CAPS about your concerns. If the need is urgent, call 911 and stay with them until help arrives. Speaking up and taking action is always appropriate because keeping your friend or family member safe is more important than losing their trust or friendship.

CAPS is here to support you, whether you are currently experiencing suicidal ideation, are depressed or anxious, have lost a loved one to suicide, are concerned about a friend or family member’s suicidal ideation, or need to talk for any reason. Call 402.472.7450 to make an appointment with one of our counselors or psychologists.

If you want to be more involved, participate in and/or donate to the UNL Out of the Darkness Campus Walk April 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. Out of the Darkness Walks like this and others across the country promote fundraising for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and promote healing to the local community to those who have lost someone or struggled. Join us on the UNL greenspace for activities, speakers, and, of course, the walk. Pre-registration is free at afsp.donordrive.com/event/unl.