About this time every spring, the cherry blossoms bloom and I’m on my way to a two-day committee meeting for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s one of my favorite meetings of the year and, incredibly, this was my twelfth year in a row attending.
I’m a big believer in the Lifeline as a vital resource — the country depends on this federally-funded service to make 24/7 phone and chat lines available to anyone thinking about suicide. And I’m always proud to represent the millions of college students who struggle with mental health issues or have experienced suicide. Around the table with me were representatives from different communities impacted by suicide, including the LGBTQ community, veterans, and Native Americans, among many others.
The topic this year was The Future. What can and should suicide prevention look like in the years ahead?
It’s tough to project. A couple of years ago, my crystal ball had no idea, for example, that Facebook would play such an important role. Facebook’s online tool allows people to report if a friend is posting worrisome messages about suicide so they can be directed to resources such as the Lifeline. Finding ways to harness technology for suicide prevention is something we’re very interested in at Active Minds — students are always on the leading edge.
No matter what the technology, though, the person at the other end is what really counts. We see this every day in the way students reach out to their peers who are struggling or when the members of an Active Minds chapter do everything they can to make sure mental health is something that’s talked about on campus.
When I look into the future, I see the continued need for strong social connections that support and catch people. Education, awareness, understanding — as early as possible and wherever students are.
In need of help for yourself or a friend? Call the Lifeline, anytime, at 1-800-273-8255 or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.