The Suicide Awareness & Prevention Office is putting on more events than ever for Suicide Awareness Month.
During September, the Suicide Awareness & Prevention Office (SAPO) will host multiple events designed to raise awareness about suicide and facilitate conversation around the issue. All of the events, including a walk challenge and a webinar, will be conducted virtually.
The number of events SAPO will host in September has significantly increased compared to previous years. Santana Simple, the head of SAPO and the assistant director of Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), said the office used to only have events on the day of the walk.
“In previous years, what we’ve done is really focused in on the Suicide Awareness Walk on one day,” Simple said. “Where the walk last year was one day, this year we wanted to do a walk challenge that encouraged people to walk with their teams and find different ways to stay connected that way.”
Anthony Franzetti, a SAPO graduate assistant, said SAPO wanted to expand from having a one-day event to a week-long event this year. However, when the pandemic started to affect the U.S. more seriously they had to alter their plans.
“We were able to take some of the ideas that we had for this week-long event and find either online alternatives or just get rid of some that we didn’t think would be feasible,” Franzetti said. “But some of those week-long event ideas have definitely been incorporated into this awareness month.”
The main event, the Suicide Awareness Walk, was turned into a virtual walk challenge where participants can join teams and walk “together.”
“You and a group of…up to eight people will sign on as a team, and you obviously don’t have to be in the same area — you can be across cities, states, whatever it may be,” Frazetti said. “You’ll go out and walk and try to remain as socially distant as possible. We encourage you to take photos and upload them on social media. We’ll be having a hashtag that people will log their journey with how many miles they’ve walked and try to get that message of walking for suicide awareness.”
SAPO also will offer Campus Connect and Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) training several times during Suicide Awareness Month. Warren Wright, a CAPS licensed professional counselor-intern, said the training teaches people skills for helping at-risk individuals.
“With the QPR [training], it’s geared toward helping people learn skills, techniques, and strategies to intervene with someone who may be at risk of attempting suicide or dying by suicide,” Wright said. “Campus Connect is geared toward more of our student leaders and student population, again learning some similar skills in order to support our fellow peers.”
There are many more events SAPO is hosting, such as Legends Program Active Minds and the Thriving through Uncertainty webinar series. Legends Program Active Minds is a program emphasizing how important managing mental health is, while the webinar series will cover a variety of topics based on what is currently impacting students. Simple said SAPO’s events provide an opportunity for students to continue growing.
“One of the main things that the pandemic has shown us is the ways we’ve not been healthy or the way we haven’t been taking care of ourselves so this is a way to continue that work,” Simple said. “A lot of students have really been engaging their self-care and learning different techniques to do that, so this is an opportunity to increase that knowledge.”
For more information on the Suicide Awareness and Prevention Office, click here.