Student Involvement at RUOK event put on by OSU Suicide Prevention Program in 2018. Credit: Ohio State Suicide Prevention Program Website

September is National Suicide Awareness Month, but two Ohio State programs are looking to promote prevention all year long. 

The Ohio State University Suicide Prevention Program and Buckeye Campaign Against Suicide both seek to provide resources about suicide prevention at a broad and student level. 

OSUSPP is an education program for students, staff and faculty to seek help and learn about methods that help prevent potential suicides through more than 70 campus partnerships, funded by the Office of Student Life and the College of Education and Human Ecology. 

OSUSPP works with members of REACH, a prevention program, and RUOK? Buckeyes, a screening program, to help graduate and undergraduate students as well as veterans, according to an Ohio State suicide prevention program chart. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34. 

Laura Lewis, assistant director of OSUSPP, said she wants to limit these numbers by “getting in the trenches together,” with a goal to break the stigma around discussing suicide.

“Everybody has some level of responsibility to each other by just being human. Everybody can make a difference; everyone can reach out,” Lewis said. 

Lewis said to look at suicide awareness as a three-step program: prevention, intervention and postvention. OSUSPP falls under prevention, Lewis said.

Education is important because it provides people with ways to address the issues that are causing them distress, Lewis said.

“People don’t want to die,” Lewis said. “They just don’t want to keep going the way they currently are.”

Lewis said she wants Ohio State community to know that this conversation surrounding suicide needs to happen every month, not just September. 

“It’s everyone’s business to promote that suicide is preventable,” she said.

While Ohio State provides programming on a broader scale, students have also taken initiative to bring awareness at the student level. 

BCAS is a student organization created to help reach campus on a more intimate level, Jenna Leventhal, BCAS president and third-year in psychology, said. The student organization helps students become more comfortable discussing suicide with one another, she said.

In an effort to raise awareness for suicide prevention, BCAS will be hosting an event Oct. 2 on the Oval known as Project Semicolon, where the organization will be handing out press-on tattoos for students to wear. 

“Someone could have chosen to end the sentence, but instead they kept going,” Leventhal said. “Instead of it being an author of a sentence, it’s a person and their life.” 

Following incidents of students falling off the parking garages, BCAS put up posters on all levels of parking garages, Leventhal said. 

Leventhal said she understands the importance of having a student organization focused on such a heavy subject.

Young people are more likely to reach out to other young people when they are struggling, Leventhal said. The importance is so great that Ohio State’s Mansfield campus created its own BCAS, Leventhal said.

Community involvement is a major protection factor against suicide, Lewis said. Seeking help, she said, should be destigmatized and discussed in the same way any other preventative healthcare would be. 

“What it means to be a Buckeye is that you reach out and connect. You care about the people around you,” Lewis said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.