The Huffington Post reports that Cornell University are taking steps to try to prevent more student suicides, there having been several in the past week. It seems that Cornell is surrounded by gorges and students have to pass over the bridges to make it into college. Of course they present a temptation to anyone in despair.
The college is checking the bridges, but mre than that is checking up on the students in the residences, trying to ensure that anyone who feels equally desperate is helped.
I have long been astonished that youth suicide is not countered more actively, worldwide. It seems that the brighter students with the most potential are somehow at more risk of suicide. It isn't the teenagers who expect to be at the bottom of the class who take their own lives... often it is those with the most to look forward to who commit suicide.
I can remember a posting to one of the UK Home Education boards in which local education authority bod had tried to persuade a family that the threatened suicide of their daughter was not a reason to withdraw her from an unhappy situation at school. Fortunately the parents disagreed, feeling that the possibility that she was unhappy enough to contemplate suicide was reason enough to take her seriously and remove her from that situation, whatever the LA thought.
I joined the "to write LOVE on her arms" group on Facebook, and I support the work they do to help people. It was their group which directed people to watch the plea from Walter Koenig on the day that his son was found dead, having taken his own life. Andrew Koenig was an actor. His parents made an impassioned plea for people to notice if someone close to them was showing signs of depression. His father Walter talked about the emails he had received from people:
"Hundreds of emails from people who said they were depressed...or had somebody in their family who showed signs of this kind of behaviour ... or had in fact lost members of the family because of this...the only thing I want to say
if you're one of those people who feel that you can't handle it any more, if you can learn anything from this it's that there are people out there who really care...it may ultimately not be enough... before you take that final decision, check it out again: talk to somebody... for those who have families who have members who they fear they may be susceptible to his kind of behaviour, don't ignore it and don't rationalise it...extend a hand."
Andrew's mother added: "For both the families and people who are suffering from depression...
they don't realise there is help and they need help... I would ask you all to familiarise yourself with signs that you may rationalise away - don't rationalise it away if there is something that's bothering you... there is love ...there was love available to him. That's the hardest part. He was much loved and he had much to contribute in this world."
I think perhaps Andrew Koenig's father was exactly right... depressed people don't know they need help, don't seek it out, they retract into themselves and don't make contact with other people. Maybe what's needed is not a last resort phone line ike the Samaritans, it needs something more active, more out there, which extends a hand to people in despair who won't seek it out otherwise.
I've been thinking that there are so many people in the world who would like to be needed, and so many others who need somebody. In these days of social media, there ought to be some way of matching up one with the other that would be a win-win. I'd like to hope that universities everywhere will be checking up on their students, making sure that there isn't someone in despair buried in their halls of residence, needing help. And we must all take responsibiity for anyone we know who might be feeling this way, and extend a hand to them, wherever they may be.
An art deco apartment by Allison Lind
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