Suicide prevention club draws concerns

Nadiah Abuswai

Nadiah AbuswaiReporter

SDSU students have been met with caution and criticism while trying to form a suicide prevention student organization.

According to The American College Health Association, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students. With startling facts like this, students on campus decided to form the group Raising Awareness and Watchfulness.

“There are so many groups on campus, but there aren’t any that are educating students about depression and suicide,” said Colleen O’ Connell, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major and RAW’s treasurer.

The group’s official status is still pending because there is concern about whether or not students should be handling such matters without the presence of a trained counselor.

The group recently went before the Students’ Association to be approved as an official SDSU student organization. Kaitlin Byer, RAW president, and others were questioned about RAW’s goals and purpose.

During the discussion, SA Adviser Zeno Wicks said that RAW could be a liability to the university. Wicks could not be reached for further comment.

However, members say RAW is not meant to be a counseling service, but rather a place for support and awareness.

“We’re not claiming to be counseling anyone,” said Byer. “We are a peer group willing to listen and be there for students who need a place to relate to others in similar situations.”

Byer said the group would be an opportunity to raise awareness about suicide and depression and she hopes that it will be able to provide resources and information to students and teachers.

Byer also said that if a student in the group began to exhibit signs of suicidal behavior, he or she would be directed to a trained counselor immediately.

“As a group, we would be mediators for situations like that, and we would direct students to counseling in that case,” Byer said.

SA President Brett Monson expressed positive feelings about the group’s mission.

“We believe in the students, and what they’re telling us is what they’re going to do,” Monson said. “I don’t think the students involved in the program want to fill the gap in counseling. That’s a lot of responsibility for college students.”

Monson said SA voted unanimously in favor of RAW, and now university lawyers must approve it.

“I would encourage students to continue to be involved and take initiative with issues like this,” Monson said. “I applaud the students who started this group because this is a school where everyone gets a chance to represent their cause.”

O’ Connell said she wants to provide people with a place to be open about these issues.

“I feel depression and suicide are not talked about enough in our society,” O’Connell said. “People are uncomfortable about it. When people feel depressed, it’s hard to find a way to get support. That’s why I think it’s necessary for this group to be approved.”

While waiting for approval, group leaders and members remain positive. They hope to meet on Thursday nights once or twice a month in Mathews Hall.