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New support groups to promote mental health on campus

By Bridget Niemiec
On October 15, 2013

Students came together last week to bring attention to an issue that affects millions of people each year.
On Monday, Oct. 7 students gathered in the War Memorial Student Union to help spread awareness about suicide. Many student and community organizations came out to help the University Counseling Center, who sponsored the event. Some of the student organizations involved were Southeastern Sociological Association, Stand OUT and the Social Work Club. There were also community organizations who were welcomed with open arms to help with the cause.
One of the community organizations involved was National Alliance of Mental Illness. NAMI is the largest organization that advocates mental health in the country. They advocate at the national, state and local level for better mental health services. The organization also works with the legislature and have many different services in order to help people with mental illnesses that cover any problems they may face.
"Mental health affects one in four adults," said Ashley Royerre,  NAMI team captain and communication sciences and disorders graduate student. "It usually occurs around the teen adolescence into the early adulthood, and it is important for everyone to know what services are out there."
Another organization that was in the Union was the St. Tammany Outreach for the Prevention of Suicide. STOPS is an organization that helps people with mental illness, families and friends that have lost someone to suicide and suicide survivors. The main objective for STOPS is to help with prevention, intervention and post-vention.
"In 2010, there were 420 reported suicide attempts in St. Tammany Parish," said Lynette Savoie, a coordinator for STOPS.
Counselors from the University Counseling Center were in the union handing out "bricks" to students so that they could write how they have been affected by suicide and post their thoughts on a "brick wall." Within the first hour of being in the union, the counselors had run out of slips of paper and resorted to writing on the wall. The Social Work Club handed out yellow ribbons so that students could show support for those affected by suicide.
Taylor Cole, a sophomore social work major, said, "Yellow is the color of suicide. So the Social Work Club is handing out ribbons to help raise awareness."
There were also speakers throughout the day in the union park. One speaker was Corie Hebert, a social work professor. She spoke to the students about the myths of suicide.
Suicide affects almost everyone at one time or another in their life. However, it can be prevented.
"I think for most people suicide is preventable. These people need to ask questions if they were really depressed or having those thoughts," Cole said, "For the people who actually commit suicide they do not have anyone to talk to and have nowhere to go. But for most people I believe it is preventable."
The UCC will be forming new support groups for students to join: Eating Disorder Support Group, Depression Support Group and Suicide Survivors Support Group. Students interested should contact the University Counseling Center at 985-549-3894 for more information on specific groups and be prepared to provide contact information.


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