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How students can save lives on college campuses

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In many cases, it's the students themselves who are the front lines in the mental health battle.

In a study of college students done in 2009, researchers found that fewer than half of students who considered suicide had reached out for professional help. Among college students, suicide is the second leading cause of death, and research has shown that two-thirds of those who did choose to communicate their suicidal thoughts chose to tell a peer rather than a medical professional.

The era of rarely talking about suicide and only in hushed tones has come to an end. The current crisis in mental health, especially among young people, has demanded this issue be brought to the surface, loudly. Thankfully, many individuals and organizations have risen to the challenge and are working tirelessly to end the suicide epidemic among young people.

In response to new data, mental health training has become increasingly available to college students. Though many campuses have mental health professionals on staff, it’s the students on these campuses who are often first to encounter a peer in crisis. Using role-playing exercises, this kind of training provides much needed knowledge for students to address suicidal ideation, panic attacks, sexual assault, and more.

Sophia Griffith-Gorgati, a University of Pennsylvania student who has employed such training in real-life scenarios, told The Inquirer, “If I hadn’t been in that training, I don’t think I would have been able to do or say anything right. I would have been a total wreck.”

These programs haven’t been in place long enough to see statistics on their effectiveness, but by taking the battle into the streets, they are definitely broadening the conversation and helping people to acquaint themselves with uncomfortable conversations. These are the conversations that need to be had if we’re going to halt this epidemic in its tracks.

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