According to The National Alliance for Mental Illness, the statistics that surround mental health issues for college students are staggering. Among them:
• One in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness
• More than 25 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year.
• More than 11 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated for anxiety in the past year and more than 10 percent reported being diagnosed or treated for depression.
• More than 40 percent of college students have felt more than an average amount of stress within the past 12 months.
• More than 80 percent of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do in the past year and 45 percent have felt things were hopeless.
• Seven percent of college students have “seriously considered suicide” during the past year.
• Suicide is the third leading cause of death on college campuses.
While all of these facts are concerning, the last two are particularly upsetting. Think about it this way – using those statistics, if your chapter has 100 members, it’s possible that 7 members have “seriously considered suicide.” Scary, isn’t it? Well, it was for students at The University of Maryland, so they decided to take action. They held the largest “Out of the Darkness Walk” to take place on a college campus to date.
The event was organized in conjunction with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which holds these walks on college campuses across the country. More than 460 students participated in the event, raising over $21,000 for suicide prevention research, education and programming. According to The DiamondBack, a large part of this particular event’s success was due to the involvement of the Greek community, with Lambda Chi Alpha and Alpha Chi Omega sponsoring the event along with the other student organizations and 20 Greek chapters participating.
Jacob Katinsky, vice president at Lambda Chi Alpha, thinks that the competitive nature of the chapters on campus helped make the event a success. “You have a lot of manpower when you’re in a fraternity or sorority,” he said. “We kind of wanted to, and I think we did, create a friendly environment, a competitive one, but in a good way. People kind of see each other compete to raise more money for the walk.”
Despite the competitiveness, the importance of the issue was not lost on those who participated. Alpha Chi Omega sister Julia Simmons told The DiamondBack about why she participated: “It’s so relevant to college students. It’s one of the leading causes of death of kids our age. This is a really great cause that can change so many people’s lives, and just by being here and walking, there’s a support group here at Maryland.”
Her sorority sister Rachel Jessamy, echoed her sentiments and stressed that it is difficult to know if someone is going through a difficult time. “You never know what someone’s going through. Someone could seem perfectly fine and you never know that they may be thinking about committing suicide or be having these thoughts. It’s important to be aware that there’s people who have these feelings and just to be there for them.”
If you’ve ever felt suicidal or need resources to help a friend, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention’s websitefor resources..
[via The DiamondBack]