Active Minds IDs a solution to suicide prevention

By Anna Spoerre, @ASpoerre_DE

Active Minds, a non-profit organization seeking to raise mental health awareness, hopes to reduce suicides from college students by adding 11 more numbers to the back of each student identification card.

Every year, 1,100 college students take their own lives, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Nationally, Active Minds started the Transform your Campus Campaign seeking to add the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number onto the back of every student ID. SIU’s chapter is joining them by asking for the same to be done at the university.

Colleen Camarano, a senior from Elmwood Park studying rehabilitation services, and current secretary of SIU’s chapter of Active Minds, said they are hoping to get as many signatures as possible before passing the petition to Interim Chancellor William Colwell.

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Active Minds places 1,100 chalk handprints around Morris Library once a year to help people visualize the vastness of the issue.

“Mental health is something that can be overlooked and it definitely is one thing that needs a lot more attention,” said Lauren Gallagher, a senior from Homewood studying political science, and current president of SIU’s chapter of Active Minds.

The Counseling Center, located in the Student Health Center, offers counseling and psychological services to students.

“Sometimes people overlook those resources, or are too shy or ashamed to use those resources,” Gallagher said. “Despite any stigma, we want people to know that it is okay to get help.”

Suicide victims feeling like they had no other option was a big factor in Camarano’s decision to start this petition at the university.

“A lot of times, just talking to somebody, just having that option to call the crisis hotline makes such a big difference, and we feel that every student should have that available to them at all times,” Camarano said.

Active Minds is considering other campaigns and policy changes to promote mental health awareness and teach students about resources on campus at the group’s first meeting of the semester at 7:30 pm. Wednesday in Lawson Hall. It is open to any student interested in helping save lives.

“We’re very excited to see where this goes,” Camarano said. “We’ve really never done anything like this before and we’re asking that, even if you don’t feel like you need it, sign the petition anyway because someday, someone will use that phone number.”

Anna Spoerre can be reached at aspoerre@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter @ASpoerre_DE

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