Suicide: an issue across all campuses
On a closely-knit campus like Georgia College, any death or tragedy strikes a chord with the whole community. The suicide of Cho Rok Chung has forced many living in Milledgeville to re-evaluate our own safety.
In general, GC is probably one of the safest schools in the state.
The intersection of police districts and an academic code emphasizing honor and responsibility have resulted in a virtually crime-free campus.
But according to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the third leading cause of death in the youth population. Every college has suicide attempts, occasionally deaths, even Georgia College.
There are several risk factors for suicide, including depression, genetic predisposition and a history of past suicide attempts.
Actual triggers are called suicide crises, and include recent, traumatic events that cause a dramatic change in attitude, including the victim’s social and academic enthusiasm.
Part of GC’s campus safety owes to the widespread public safety presence and their response to suicide calls.
“When we get a call, we try to assess the situation of the person, calm them down and call in medical help,” patrol officer Trey Quattlebaum said. “We try and talk with them to diffuse the situation and remove or restrain any weapons that they might have.”
All potential cases of suicide must be hospitalized and officers are required to refer any suicide cases to medical services.
“It’s not so much a policy as it is a law,” patrol office Tron Smith said. In conjunction with public safety’s efforts, university housing reaches out to students through the Community Advisers (CA).
Standard training for CA includes practice dealing with situations like incipient suicide, or how to handle a friend suffering from depression and erratic behavior. CA’s efforts couple with with the intimate bonds formed in a close community like GC and numerous outlets for students to discuss the factors that might otherwise lead to suicide to help at risk students.
Cathy Rojas, at GC Counseling Services, had a great deal to share about how to handle the possibility of a suicidal friend.
“It’s important that you don’t avoid addressing suicide directly, don’t beat around the bush, call it what it is. Also, it’s best to respect their feelings, the worst thing you can do is tell them ‘It’s not so bad,’ or that they’re just in a rough patch, just listen and make sure they know that you care,” Rojas said. “Figures of authority, even just professors should try to be open to their students. Every little bit helps.”
In addition, Rojas said if a student is sure their friend is going to make an attempt, that it’s critical not to try to prevent the act alone.
“Many students feel like disclosure is responsibility; the truth is, Public Safety and similar organizations are better trained and better equipped to rescue suicide victims, and anyone at risk is better off if we ask for help from qualified professionals,” Rojas said.
Students at Georgia College also enjoy a very open faculty and staff, in addition to an uncommonly well-funded and staffed counseling service, which Rojas described as “excellent.”
According to all sources, those who are considering suicide should consult someone that they trust, such as a religious figure or a family member, though the Counseling staff is always happy to help. For anyone who needs to talk, the counseling staff at the Wellness Center is always open to students. Call Counseling Services at (478) 445-5331.