National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
South Texas College Counseling and Student Accessibility Services share the importance of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and its services from mental health crisis to accommodating students in the classrooms. Suicide Prevention Awareness Month has a dedicated week to this topic from Sept. 5 – Sept. 11 in the United States.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. A heavy topic for all during the age of COVID when deaths are at an all-time high and is straining the physical and mental health of many.
Though it hasn’t always pertained to the virus. Topics such as having depression, anxiety, trauma or adjusting to a new environment like the transition from high school to college, are all factors that could lead to the act of self-harm.
STC’s Counseling Services Manager, Mayra Avila shares the signs students should look out for and the resources available to all students, faculty and staff.
“The mission of the Counseling and Student Accessibility Service department is to make sure that our students know that we’re here on campus to assist them in meeting their career goals, personal issues, or needing additional resources,” said Avila. “Our counselors and case managers are available to provide them with the support they need.”
Assigned counselors are available at all five STC campus locations which students have the option to meet in-person or online including an online college that is handled by all five counselors.
Depending on the need of the student, a case manager or accessibility services staff is assigned to address that need.
“If a student needs classroom accommodations, then we’ll provide them with accessibility services,” said Avila. “If a student is failing, we’ll provide a case manager for support that way we’re able to guide them and can know if they’re missing a resource which led them to drop out of school.”
The mission of the Counseling and Student Accessibility Service department is to make sure that our students know that we’re here on campus to assist them in meeting their career goals, personal issues, or needing additional resources.
In recent cases, Avila has seen an outreach of students comfortably coming forth with their issues.
“What [the department] has been seeing more of, is that students are feeling comfortable in reaching out to us for help involving life issues like the transition from high school to college, relationships, and loss of a loved one,” shares Avila.
During the pandemic, a mental intervention unit was established due to students’ decline in mental health services and based on the need before the pandemic. Five higher trained mental health police officers were assigned to this unit to respond to mental crisis situations.
“We saw this as being a big issue before COVID and our law enforcement officers who are higher trained and assigned to this unit will respond to a mental health crisis with our counseling staff,” said Avila.
Avila shares that if you notice signs of withdrawal or disposition from a friend or loved one that may be of direct threat contact, STC P.D. and the Suicide-Crisis Line that is available through the Guardian app.
“Students can access that crisis line on the app with a click of a button which notifies our 24-hour police dispatch services in alerting the officers with the known location,” said Avila.
The Counseling and Student Accessibility Service works closely with Hidalgo County’s Tropical Behavior Center and Starr County’s Border Region Behavioral Health Center in providing screenings to determine emergency detention.
“Suicide is not the answer to any problem. There’s a lot of help out there that the individual can receive. They just have to let us know that they need it, and we will provide those resources and emergency detention if needed so that we can make sure that they’re safe,” said Avila.
For more information about STC’s Counseling and Student Accessibility Service visit, https://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/counseling/.