Student Counseling Center
Awareness and Prevention
Out of the Darkness Community Walk
Peer Counselors carry the banner at the 2013 Out of the Darkness walk.
In academic year 2007-2008, the Student Counseling Center launched the "Keep on Living" Suicide Prevention Initiative with funding from the HBCU-Center for Excellence in Behavioral Health at Morehouse School of Medicine. While we have continued to be engaged in prevention since then, this year we have increased focused attention. The American College Health Association's 2011 National College Health Assessment (ACHA–NCHA), a national survey of college students at 2- and 4-year institutions, revealed that approximately 30% of students reported feeling "so depressed that it was difficult to function" at some time in the past year, and more than 6 % reported seriously considering suicide, with about 1% having attempted in the previous year. Depression is a major risk factor for suicide, which is the third leading cause of death for teens and young adults ages 15 to 24.
With this in mind, we kicked off the HU Peer Counselor Organization's 2013-2014 Fall training weekend by participating in the Hampton Roads 2013 Out of the Darkness Community Walk at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach. The annual Walk's mission is to bring the treatable disease of depression and the tragedy of suicide into the light, and is for anyone who has been touched by depression or suicide. The program included informative and moving personal testimonies of personal experiences with depression, suicidal intentions and surviving the suicide of a loved one. There was a wall of remembrance covered with photographs and tributes to friends and family who died by suicide, games, drawings, group photos, entertainment, instruction on making origami cranes – the international symbol of hope and healing – refreshments, and, of course the walk around the Mt. Trashmore park and lake. In addition, clinicians were on hand to assist individuals with screening for depression.
We have posted photos of Peer Counselors walking through the curtain of cranes – the starting point of the walk, and holding their banner.
This year, we have again been funded by the HBCU-CFE to introduce a student- suicide prevention program developed by the Depression OutReach Alliance called The DORA Campus Program. Our 18 trained peer educators, known as DORA Helpers, are ready and equipped to help eliminate the stigma associated with seeking mental health counseling and to provide a safe atmosphere for at-risk students to express their needs. The Program is conducted via hour-long small group information and discussion sessions facilitated by the Helpers: Deshaun Adams, Prayer Jackson, Jazmine Brown, Sean Johnson, Patience Canty, Shawnna Mencias, Brianna Crawford, Asia Miller, Vincent Dillon, Barbara Nyuguna, Marissa Edwards, Lesley Robinson, Patrice Francis, Heather Scriven, Sunny Harris, Keira Weldon and Terrance Wright. Staffs Counselors are on-hand during the sessions, and referrals to the Counseling Center are assisted for those students who acknowledge being in need of and ready for professional help.
The CFE selected us to participate in the 2014 Dr. Lonnie E. Mitchell Behavioral Health Policy Academy. This prestigious invitation will allow two staff members and four DORA Helpers to travel to Atlanta to attend the 2 ½ day Institute from April 4-6, 2014. We will have an opportunity to present our prevention efforts to the other participating colleges and universities, and learn how enhance our strategies to maximize our impact on the student body. To contact the 2013-2014 DORA Helpers or to learn more about how you can participate in DORA please call the Student Counseling Center at 757-727-5617.
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