Pinwheels and the Suicide Awareness

Rachel Spinella
Staff Writer

Features_Rachel Spinella_Pinwheels_PC UNCG NOW


On Monday, Sept. 10, students set up pinwheels outside of the EUC to bring awareness to others on campus about suicide for World Suicide Prevention Day. Each pinwheel out of the 1,100 represents a life that was lost to suicide every year.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States today. It is the second-leading cause of death among college students. The UNCG Now confirms to have estimated that the number of college students who take their own lives each year now falls somewhere between 1,100 and 1,400.

In an interview with NBC News, Ashley Stauffer, a project manager for the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University, stated, “What has increased over the past five years is threat-to-self characteristics including serious suicidal thoughts and self-injurious behaviors.”

About 26 percent of students that sought help explained that they would intentionally hurt themselves; an estimated 32.2 percent have considered suicide.

John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, in an interview with USA Today lists the signs or symptoms of someone who might be having suicidal thoughts or have attempted to take their life before. Different factors that put someone at high risk for suicide include prior suicide attempts, abuse of substances, mental disorders, lack of access to behavioral health care, chronic disease and disabilities, knowing someone who has died by suicide and having access to lethal weapons.

Warning signs consist of discussion of taking one’s own life, talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live, or feeling trapped or in unbearable pain. Bullying or breakups as well as being jobless can also contribute to someone’s development of suicidal thoughts.

Draper stated, “All those signs that we’ve listed for what makes a person look suicidal are fairly generic and hard for us to be able to spot unless you’re a diagnostician.” He further notes, “However, you know when a person is having relationship problems or going through a divorce – you know when somebody has serious financial loss… These are very human, recognizable signs that people could be needing help.”

On April 28, 2017, a famous rapper known as Logic released a hit single titled  1-800-273-8255. The song has a powerful underlying meaning to it that has left an impact on fans and people of all ages.

In an interview with Genius, he explained how the idea and message came to him after speaking with a fan about how his music saved their life, he said “And then it hit me, the power that I have as an artist with a voice.” He wrote this song in order to connect and reach out to people that are suffering in silence, who feel that their life means nothing. The title of the song is the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

An anonymous UNCG student, who has experienced the loss of a family member due to suicide, said, “Don’t be afraid to speak up, it is not a weakness.” They went on to state that in the situation they faced, “If they had known, then we [family] would have reached out to him and tried to do anything to help him.”

In an NBC News interview with a student at Ramapo College of New Jersey, Amy Ebeling- who had been struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide- said, “Kids going to college need to realize it’s not a weakness,” she continued, “They shouldn’t be afraid to get help.” She further states, “Don’t shy away from it. It needs to be addressed. Let go of the stigma.”  

Like American motivational speaker Leslie Brown said, “Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong.”  Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone that is close to you, that you feel comfortable with and trust.

Ebeling concludes, “I think both students and parents need to keep an open mind, but at the end of the day, those who are seeking help [need] to realize that they are doing this for themselves and no one else, and they need to put themselves first and foremost no matter what.”

If you notice someone showing signs of suicidal thoughts, it’s important to ask, support them, help them connect with a lifeline or clinical support and to check in periodically if you feel able. If you’re having these thoughts yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out and get help.

Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states, “Reaching out … can save a life.”

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