SHU implements new suicide prevention screening

Seton Hill University (SHU) is the first organization in Westmoreland County to implement a suicide-prevention screening tool. This program began as a result of a grant received by Westmoreland Country through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act in 2011.

On SHU’s website, Jennifer Reeger wrote about the new screening, saying this program will “screen students who come to receive counseling, health services or disability services using a computer-based survey system.”

SHU was approached about implementing the screening at the University because students fall into the risk age for suicide. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second highest cause of death among persons ages 10-24 in 2012. Homicide is the third leading cause of death for persons in the same age range.

The survey will also screen for risk factors of suicide such as eating disorders, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other issues.

Depression alone affects about 30 percent of college students. In a 2011 nationwide survey conducted by the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment, “about 30 percent of college students reported feeling ‘so depressed that it was difficult to function’ at some time in the past year”.

Eating disorders share a close relation to depression. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), almost 50 percent of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.

ANAD also reports “91 percent of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22 percent dieted ‘often’ or ‘always’.”

“Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives.”

ANAD also reports that an estimated 20 percent of people suffering from anorexia will die prematurely from complications relating to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.

Both male and female college students are at high risk for suicide and several risk factors that can lead to suicide. Due to the high risk factor for college students, implementing this screening process at SHU can potentially improve and save many lives.

No matter what problems you are going through; if you need to talk to someone, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Your call will be confidential and free. You can also visit their website at www.suicidepreventionlifelife.org, where you can chat with trained professionals online and find help specifically for veterans, young adults and bullying. They are there to talk to you about substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, loneliness or whatever other problems you may want to discuss.

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