World Suicide Prevention Day hits home for Robert Morris


Photo credit: Tori Flick

Raistlyn Lehman

Each year, nearly 43,000 Americans decide to end their life. That means that more than 115 suicides occur every day—every 40 seconds. This results in suicide taking tenth place as one of the United States’ leading causes of death, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Robert Morris University had one suicide within the past year. Which is why it is important for students, staff and faculty at RMU to promote the awareness of suicide by taking part in National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 5-11, and National Suicide Prevention Day, Sept. 10.

One of the student-led groups on campus that helps spread the word about suicide prevention is THRIVE. Often known around campus as “the bridge” between RMU’s Counseling Center and students, THRIVE brings awareness to the different types of mental illnesses, as well as addressing serious issues such as suicides.

This year for Suicide Prevention Week/Day, THRIVE set up a booth at PNC Colonial Café and offered students the option to create an inspirational and uplifting card for their peers to read while eating or while walking around.

“This was super successful last year… We believe that it was very encouraging to students… It’s just to let people know that there are people here who care about you and you matter,” said Tiffany Hartz, THRIVE supervisor.

THRIVE supervisors encourage people who are thinking about suicide to reach out for help—whether it be to the RMU Counseling Center, ResLife, staff, faculty or a fellow student. They also want people to be aware of actions they can take if a fellow student is possibly having suicidal thoughts.

“Always take it (suicide) seriously. Don’t be afraid to ask if someone is feeling suicidal because it doesn’t increase the risk that they are going to do it, it can actually relieve anxiety and allow for the person to talk about how they’re feeling,” said Diane Dahm, co-supervisor of THRIVE.

Dahm also explained that the following actions could be signs of a possible suicide.

“When someone is withdrawing from things they like to do… Stops talking to friends, become less social, skips classes,” said Dahm.

In association with THRIVE, Delta Tau Delta, a fraternity on campus, is also making sure that students and staff member are aware of National Suicide Prevention Week and Day.

“It (Suicide Prevention Week) means a great deal to us. We lost one of our brothers last semester… The pain we (Delta Tau Delta) felt, I would hate to see anyone else feel,” said Vince Russo, senior member and the director of recruitment at Delta Tau Delta.

Russo also explained that although September is the official Suicide Prevention Week/Day, his fraternity is also going to bring up the issue again in October when they have more time to prepare.

“We just want a campus-wide awareness that this (suicide) is a serious issue. This is not just someone showing weakness, this is a real thing and a critical time in a person’s life that a lot of people feel,” said Russo.

Russo further explained that Delta Tau Delta is going to promote suicide awareness by putting more programs together that include: handing out items around campus, hiring speakers, and spreading the story about their beloved brother.

“He was very loved on this campus, very popular. As heart-wrenching as it was, it was a perfect example of how someone that was so full of life and love for other people, who filled a lot of other people with love, that something like this could swoop in and engage all that… He is only truly gone if we let him go,” said Russo.

Russo commented on how they are trying to show their lost brother in a positive light and to help other people when they are going through troubling times.

If a student is in need of help, the Counseling Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For an after-hours crisis, students should contact Residence Life, RMU Public Safety or the Crisis Hotline at 741-741.