By Rachel Popa
A workshop and discussion about suicide prevention was held at the Wabash Building in room 416 on Oct.15. The workshop was conducted by Brandon Rohlwing, a senior integrated marketing communications student at Roosevelt University.
Rohlwing, a committee chair for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and member of ReachOut.com, first shared his own experience with depression and how it led him to get involved with suicide prevention organizations.
Rohlwing said that because he felt like being gay was wrong, he eventually developed depression and suicidal thoughts.
“It kind of just boiled up to the point where I wanted to end it all,” Rohlwing said.
Rohlwing recalled that when he was on the Internet researching suicide, an ad for ReachOut.com, a website about suicide prevention and mental health, popped up.
Rohlwing said that reading real stories about teens who were going through things similar to what he was going through allowed him to gather the confidence to tell his parents about what he was feeling.
“That’s the whole goal of ReachOut.com,” Rohlwing said. “It’s there for you to build up what you need in order to reach out for help.”
After telling his story, Rohlwing discussed with the audience some statistics and facts about suicide.
Rohlwing said that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, and that psychological autopsies have shown that 90 percent of those who have died by suicide suffered from a mental health disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder.
“Understanding the cause of suicide is vital to saving lives,” Rohlwing said.
Rohlwing also dispelled some myths and stigmas about suicide. He explained that people who are suicidal do not want to die as much as they just want their pain to go away.
Rohlwing told the audience that looking out for warning signs such as withdrawal from friends and family can prevent suicide from occurring.
“Show that you care, be genuine,” he said. “Ask about suicide, be direct but not confrontational…do not leave the person alone.”
Rohlwing said if someone is worried that somebody close to them may be contemplating suicide, they should trust their judgement, and remember that having genuine interest in that person’s wellbeing is more important than saying “the right thing”.
Jenny Baumann, a junior psychology student in attendance at the workshop, said that she appreciates mental health discussions and support networks having a presence on college campuses.
“Coming to this event to support Brandon and listen to what he’s saying is a good thing on a college campus,” Baumann said.
Rohlwing emphasized the importance of opening up the discussion about suicide in order to remove the stigma surrounding mental health.
“One conversation could change a life,” he said.
The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-(800)-273-8255.