By Heather Tilma
Suicide. It’s a hard and recurring topic in our city, in our country, and throughout the world. The majority of people, if asked, they know or have known someone who’s either committed or attempted suicide. This is not a easy topic to talk about, however this is extremely important to discuss and understand.
“Many people are scared,” stated Lynnae Selberg, Assistant Professor and Program Director of the Grand Rapids Community College Counseling and Career Center, in an email. “Sometimes it is less scary to call the hotline and talk to someone vs. talking face to face to someone.”
To help students who suffer with suicidal thoughts or any other mental health disorders, GRCC provides a mental health program to test student’s mental health through the program’s website. There are several types of screenings on the website for specific mental health disorders such as depression, general anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder and an alcohol screening. These screenings are completely free, anonymous, and take just a few minutes to complete.
The program’s website lists the warning signs, how to recognize them and outlines the next steps that can be taken to improve the situation.
“I would always encourage someone who is feeling hopeless to talk to someone… a friend, a counselor, the hotline, someone at church,” Selberg wrote. “Life has its good days and bad, and for some there are more and more bad and they begin to see no way out of the pain and suffering they are experiencing. This is when it is so important to get them to talk.”
To put into perspective the magnitude of how much suicide and mental health affects our lives, the World Health Organization (WHO) shows several statistics about the impact of suicide. WHO estimates that about 800,000 people die by suicide every year. According to WHO, for every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide each year. A previous suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor.
Although GRCC’s services can be helpful, Selberg expressed the difficulty students may have about opening up and talking to someone through the lifeline.
“It is so scary to call and talk sometimes. The hotline does a great job (of) letting you know exactly what to expect.”
Selberg gives a description of what students will experience if they call the hotline. “When someone calls, they will first hear a message that you’ve reached the hotline and then you will hear music while they connect you to a person who will talk with you about what you are experiencing. It is totally free and confidential and a great resource.”
There are so many people who have struggled and who are still struggling. The suicide prevention lifeline website has a section filled with people’s stories and videos of their life story regarding suicide.
If you or someone you know has been affected by suicide, contact the Counseling and Career Center at GRCC by calling (616) 234-3900 to schedule a personal counseling appointment. In a state of emergency call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
There are additional resources available in Grand Rapids where those who are struggling can get help including:
- Cornerstone Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Network of West Michigan, (616) 336-3535
- Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Service, (616) 455-9200
- Forest View Hospital, (616) 942-9610