Miami University recently issued a newsletter to students regarding mental health, outlining the expectations Miami has for students about bullying and the resources available to students who are struggling with thoughts of despair or suicide.
Kip Alishio, director of Student Health Services, worked with Dean of Students Susan Mosley-Howard to reach all students with messages about mental health. Literature about suicide prevention is usually delivered to all first-year students. Instead, a decision was made this year to reach all students, Alishio said.
The university-wide newsletter was sent because of the recent media spotlight placed on teenage suicide.
“Across all populations in the U.S., suicidal behavior rises and peaks in the fall and somewhat in the spring,” Alishio said. “This is true in student and other populations, which is why there is a need to be proactive.”
Alishio said while the message was delivered on a larger scale, it is not indicative of a rise in suicides at Miami. In fact, the university is unaware of any suicides this year, according to Alishio and he feels confident Miami’s suicide rate is much lower than the national average. Although attention has been brought to some suicide attempts this year, it is not a number that is recorded because it is difficult to tell whether these actions are actual attempts at suicide, he said.
According to surveys by The National Collegiate Health Association and Healthy Minds, 9 to11 percent of American college students around the country consider suicide in any given year.
Alishio said one of the goals of the newsletter was to address suicidal thought before a tragedy has the opportunity to occur.
“Being in college is a protective factor,” he said. “College students commit suicide at a rate that is half of the rate of same-age adults who are not in college.”
He said the protective factor could potentially be explained by the programs and resources available to students who are dealing with these issues.
Seven percent of students at Miami take advantage of the mental health services available to them in any given year, and one in four students will use the services by the time they graduate, according to Alishio.
He said there are a variety of ways for students to get help if they are feeling troubled including face-to-face counseling, online resources and phone hotlines.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to use Miami’s counseling, but I think I would first try something more personal like talking to a friend,” first-year Gretchen McCall said.
For others, counseling is a viable option.
Senior Lee Zamos would not be opposed to seeking counseling, but was unaware of the service.
“I would feel comfortable using them, I was just unaware of them before reading the newsletter,” he said.
The Miami counseling services are available for full-time students. If students need help dealing with crises, they can call the Oxford and Butler County crisis hotline at (513) 523-4146.