On Feb. 8, the Student Health Center-Health Promotion Program organized a “Step into Awareness” event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the John M. Pfau Library Lawn. Step into Awareness featured a display of 1,100 flip-flop sandals to represent the 1,100 college students nationwide that die by suicide each year and their stories.
Dispersed among the flip-flops were written accounts by the loved ones of those who died of suicide, expressing how much they miss them. Signs were also placed along the Pfau Library Lawn with statistics regarding suicide rates among college students and encouraging messages to seek help if someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, while on average, there are an estimated total of 123 suicides worldwide per day.
The Step into Awareness event has taken place at the CSUSB campus for more than seven years and is usually held once during the school year to promote the supportive services offered at the university.
“Suicide is a real issue and everyone should know that we have plenty of resources here on campus. It’s so helpful for those who are going through it, attempting or have attempted, or they know someone who died of suicide. They are not alone,” said lead peer health educator Crystal Ruedas.
The Student Health Center-Health Promotion Program also had tables set up outside of the Pfau Library that focused on a variety of interactive activities and informational booths. Students were able to contribute to a memory board by adding the names of people they know who died from suicide.
There was also a table about Project Semicolon, an anti-suicide initiative and non-profit organization that works to reduce incidents of suicide and to erase the stigma surrounding the topic by getting people more informed.
“I personally know someone who has died from suicide, so when I first ran this booth, it was difficult for me because it brought back a lot of memories. You almost want to suppress it and not think about it,” said senior peer health educator Beatrice Yanez. “But it’s much more important to spread awareness of the issue. I hope anyone going through the same thing can find the resources they need here.”
The CSUSB Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services allow students to schedule appointments to meet with a member of the counseling staff Monday through Friday. Issues such as depression, death of a loved one and other personal traumas can be discussed.
Those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or know someone who is are encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).