The Minority Ally Students in Healthcare gathered Tuesday for an interactive discussion about suicide prevention methods.
The event, called “Grab My Hand,” focused on providing safe spaces for students to engage their peers if they feel they are at risk for suicide.
Taylor Locke, a third-year in health information management and MASH president, said “Grab My Hand” was based in the principle of unity and helping to lift others.
“‘Grab My Hand’ came from more of a ‘pull me up’ standpoint,” Locke said. “As far as ‘Hey, I’m doing fine, but you’re not, so grab my hand and we can be fine together.’”
Locke said the event was planned and hosted in concordance with National Suicide Prevention Week.
“We wanted to create a space for peers to come, hear some prevention tips and express themselves,” Locke said.
Lisa Hayes, wellness advocate and licensed clinical social worker, was the featured guest speaker at the event. She stressed the importance of creating communities for candid and direct dialogue.
“We have this culture of politeness, or not wanting to get too close to people’s pain, or not wanting to have too much vulnerability, or not wanting to get too personal, but that’s actually not how human beings work,” Hayes said.
She said people still struggle with emotional distress, even if they choose not to talk about it. Hayes demonstrated the significance of open communication by prompting students to ask one another about their current emotional state.
“People are real caught up in the ‘how to,’” Hayes said. “What I’m more concerned about is: Are we aware of our own vulnerability? Are we aware of when we need each other? Are we aware of how to ask those questions?”
Hayes further challenged students to take a closer look at their own mental states in order to be better equipped to help their peers.
“That’s the culture to create in our communities, that’s the culture to create in our friendship groups and it’s the culture that’s relevant to what prevention truly is,” Hayes said, referring to the exercise.
Hayes said it is important to take note of minority identities and experiences and that the historical and sociocultural lenses of those populations must be taken into account.
“When we talk about resources and coping skills, we want to make sure that includes people’s lived experiences,” Hayes said. “For me, it’s probably the hardest thing to find safe spaces for [minorities].”
Locke said it is important to push on this topic because people like to avoid uncomfortable conversations.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from,” Locke said. “Anybody can go through something like this.”