The Counseling Center is Hosting an Event for Suicide Awareness Month


September was Suicide Awareness Month and the Drake Counseling Center held a variety of events to show students that resources are available for those struggling with suicidal ideation and mental health issues like depression.

“Suicide awareness means raising awareness that people have experiences that are really hard to talk about,” said Kayla Bell, director of the counseling center. “The hope is that you feel like we really see you on a deeper level.”

Educating students and faculty about the warning signs of suicide is another initiative of the Counseling Center. It’s important to them that everyone is skilled enough to have these conversations and know how to help, Bell said.

Eric Preuss, project director for the Bureau of Substance Abuse within the Iowa Department of Public Health and Human Services, held a stand during the Suicide Prevention Walk. Preuss strives to provide resources primarily to people with addictions, but also works to raise awareness about suicide, as these issues may be related.

The Pruess booth provided pamphlets on how to contact Your Life in Iowa if someone is contemplating suicide. Sections of the brochure tell students how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and provide phone numbers if they need to speak to someone.

When speaking to students, the Iowa Department of Public Health and Human Services aims to eliminate the stereotype that excessive stress should be normalized.

“I think a lot of that is our culture,” said Iowa Department of Public Health Executive Director 2 Keri Neblett. “In the United States, we are a very individualistic society that focuses on doing things independently. Independence is considered ideal and relying on someone for help is considered a sign of weakness.

With that also came a new national hotline to specifically address suicide. On July 15, 2022, the hotline was changed to 988 to create an easier-to-remember set of numbers for callers.

“Please talk about hope,” Preuss said. “It’s so important that no matter where you are, no matter what you’re going through, there’s a brighter future, no matter how bleak it may seem today. Reach out, pick up the phone, call 988 …help is just a phone call away and people are non-judgmental.

The Walk for Suicide Prevention

On the afternoon of September 23, dozens of students participated in a suicide prevention march organized by the Drake Counseling Center. Among them were Drake’s women’s soccer team, dressed in matching jerseys with encouraging messages, as well as many students marching in support of loved ones and friends who have died of or contemplated suicide.

“Supporting people I know who have struggled and gone through hardship is something that isn’t talked about a lot and it’s not right,” sophomore Madissen Kerman said. “I feel like it needs to be talked about more and these walks are really helping.”

As the students walked, they passed arrows with messages such as “you are loved” and “you are not alone”..’ They also walked past tables manned by organizations offering resources, such as cards with numbers students could call if they needed to speak to someone.

“We need more authentic conversations about suicide,” said Drake Counseling Center counselor Tyler Jacob-Lewis. “It’s one of those things that you just don’t talk about because people think it’s scary, and you know, the reality is it’s kinda scary. I think we can’t deny that. , but if we have conversations, it lessens that fear and people engage in conversations.

The purpose of the walk was to raise awareness about suicide and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Group events like these can show students that they are not alone.

“It was a big event that we wanted, and to see so many students coming out for it was really awesome just because we know all the students are busy,” Jacob-Lewis said.

Impossible Sign

Comedian Josh Rivedal came to campus to speak with students about his own mental health issues and how to stay positive.

Rivedal gave reflections from his own life on how he developed the mindset of honoring the way people present themselves, how to recognize people, and how he needed to be more vulnerable.

“It was not what I expected. I liked how the presenter they brought in was also a comedian, so it was a little lighthearted,” said freshman Lauren Benson. “He also gave his personal experience and prevention ideas.”

Recognizing the healing process was one of the most formative parts of Rivedal’s mental journey, he explained. He had to accept that he wasn’t doing well and that he wasn’t looking for help.

“A lot of people don’t get that kind of access or that kind of help until they do in their lives, especially in college,” said sophomore Tegan Byford. “I know there are a lot of people who are struggling and just don’t know where to get help, and unfortunately the schools just don’t teach that,”

Rivedal ended his presentation on how to help others and notice the warning signs. He wanted everyone to know that students are capable of preventing suicide as long as you let them know you are there for them and see them.

As this is one of the last events, the message remains that suicide awareness should not be discussed only during the month of September, Bell said.

“My hope, especially in my role here, is that we create a community where someone could walk anywhere on campus and have resources or feel supported for their own well-being – that they don’t don’t feel like his insecurity for who he is doesn’t belong and they’re enough,” Bell said.


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