Coffee with a counselor, a candle light vigil and yoga are just a handful of events that Texas A&M has lined up for Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month.
Starting Monday, 1,100 pinwheels will be displayed in Academic Plaza in honor of each of the 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year. A Tuesday kickoff event at Rudder Plaza will feature music, speakers with personal connections to suicide, and a walk through campus in which participants carry tea lights. The kickoff is open to the local community. Friday there will be a virtual candlelight vigil that aligns with World Suicide Prevention Day.
In 2019, suicide was the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States with one person dying every 11 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for college students, said Santana Simple, assistant director of A&M’s Counseling and Psychological Services and a licensed professional counselor. Simple also said that 10% of college students seriously consider suicide each year.
“We know that a lot of people experience and have these thoughts,” she said. “We just want to make sure that we are visible. And that’s one of the most powerful things about the kickoff event — we want to make sure that if someone is struggling or having those thoughts that they can visually see how much support is there on our campus.”
The COVID-19 pandemic led to changes in last year’s suicide awareness month events at A&M that have carried over to some degree this year. For example, Simple said that the school will continue the Suicide Awareness Walk Challenge this year. It’s an event that people can participate from anywhere and that drew in hundreds of people last year, some as far as A&M’s Qatar campus. The walk software was made in partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Simple said that as teams make progress they can learn about health and wellness resources.
Walk participants can register teams of up to eight people and log their steps starting Tuesday. The four-week long event is meant to honor those who died by suicide and support people with suicidal thoughts or those who survived suicide attempts.
There will be multiple days this month when counselors will be at Starbucks locations across campus so that students can talk to them in a more casual setting. Other activities will include an art therapy session at the Student Services Building on the 21st, Yoga at the Memorial Student Center on the 23rd and various educational programs. Some events require registration.
Simple said it is important for people to remember that there are university, state and national resources for them to take advantage of if they are facing mental health challenges.
“If I had to say I had a goal for this month, I would just want people to know that there is help that is available and that they do not have to struggle alone,” Simple said. “And not that they won’t struggle; we all struggle, but there is support that’s out there.”
Go to caps.tamu.edu/notanotheraggie to learn more about or register to participate in suicide awareness and prevention events at A&M.