Suicide is not selfish. It is not a choice. It is not a coward’s way out. It is not the answer.
Suicide is preventable.
Growing up, I had a silent struggle with mental illness that deepened into suicidal thoughts when I came to college. I tried to deal with it by myself, but that was only making things worse. It wasn’t until I opened up about what I was going through that I found the support I needed. I was lucky to receive treatment and learn how to manage my anxiety and depression.
One of the most important things I learned in all of this is that mental illness is much more common than I thought. It wasn’t a burden I had to carry on my own.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students. However, many misconceptions still exist about these issues. As college students, it’s not always easy to prioritize our own mental health. That’s why it’s so important to break the stigma around suicide and mental illness to show everyone that no one is alone in their struggles. At UW, Ask.Listen.Save. is here to support you.
Ask.Listen.Save. is UW-Madison’s suicide prevention organization. It encourages people to ASK how their friends are doing, LISTEN and pay attention to possible warning signs, and potentially SAVE a life.
Joining Ask.Listen.Save. was one of the best decisions of my college career. I found a community of people who understood and empowered me to advocate for others.
The organization provides resources around the community for students who may be afraid to ask for help.
I must also encourage all of you to come to our annual Out of the Darkness Walk on April 22nd to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and walk for loss and life!
It is important to remember that suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and identities can be at risk. As fellow peers, it’s important to look out for changes in friends’ behavior that may be warning signs of suicide.
For resources or more information about Ask.Listen.Save., go to www.asklistensave.org.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You matter!
By Mackenzie Cowles, NAMI-UW Ambassador
My personal experience with mental illness began the spring semester of my freshman year, however, I was in denial that I have been experiencing a mental illness my entire life. When things began to fall apart with my roommate and my living situation, I felt uncomfortable and unwelcome in my own room. This is when my very high levels of anxiety began. She was extremely manipulative, she made me feel like everything was my fault and she made me think that I did not deserve to feel happiness. I fell into a state of depression. I was incredibly sad and lonely, I had given up trying in my classes and I even had to drop a class because I was doing so poorly. I was on the phone with my parents, younger sister and my best friend from home every single day. All I wanted to do was drop out of school and come home permanently. My lowest point was when I stayed in bed all day and did not even get up to eat or go to the bathroom. I paralyzed and incredibly numb.
After hitting my lowest point, I decided something needed to change in my life because I did not want to go another day with feeling like this. That was when I reached out to the student mental health services at University Health Services (UHS) on campus. I started regularly seeing someone there. In addition, I went home during spring break and talked to both a psychologist and psychiatrist. I was prescribed antidepressants and took them for about six months until I felt like I no longer needed them. Admitting to myself that I needed professional help and finally going to seek help changed my life in every way.
I look back on my life and I realize that I have been experiencing anxiety since I was a little girl. I think in many ways our society tells us to just “be strong” or “don’t be sad” or “get it together”. I will spend the rest of my life encouraging people who think that they might be experiencing a mental illness to seek support from professionals, from people who have been through similar experiences, and from people like NAMI club members who are extremely supportive and understanding. To this day I still struggle with my anxiety, but I am happy to say I have not experienced any more episodes of depression. While this was a terrible time in my life, it also helped me find a new passion for dispelling the stigma that surrounds mental health.
You Are Not Alone
By Natalie Hammer, NAMI-UW Ambassador
Something I continue to learn is that it is okay to ask for help, as there is always someone there to help you. Whether you talk to a friend, a roommate, your CA, a parent, a teacher, a counselor, people are willing to help you get the help you need in fighting your battle against mental illness. Luckily here at UW, we have amazing opportunities to help with your mental illness.
Recently, I decided to take further steps in my healing and I made a mental health consultation at UHS. What I really like about this is you can either talk to someone over the phone or in person for your appointment. During this 30-45 minute consultation, you are asked about your previous experiences with mental health and the reason you came. From your information, you work with someone to create an individualized plan of action. Services at UHS range from individual and group therapy to workshops for specific topics. Also, they offer outside sources if needed in order to get what works best for you. Personally, I wish I ‘d taken advantage of these services earlier on in the year because there are many things offered that could aid you in your healing!
Also, since I’m apart of NAMI, I would like to give a shameless plug to WiChat on Mondays from 7-8pm on the 3rd floor of the SAC! I haven’t gone YET because of work scheduling, but I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this. It’s a peer support group that is there every week to talk about anything and everything you have going on.
My biggest tip to you all is to utilize your resources and know that it’s okay to ask for help. There are SO many people that are more than happy to help you, myself included!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.