1,100 college students a year die by suicide. A local university wants to raise awareness
- A suicide prevention bench was dedicated to Moravian University.
- Students lined up to participate in the bench unveiling
- Around 1,100 college students commit suicide every year
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — About 1,100 college students commit suicide every year, according to national statistics, and a local university is sounding the alarm about the issue during national Suicide Prevention Month.
“It's something at heart for me,” said Neema Mburu of Kenya, an international student studying psychology at Moravian University.
Mburu said she lost a cousin to suicide.
“My main interests have always been clinical psychology, looking at suicide rates; how can we reduce the suicide rates in the nation as a whole, and also just in the community."
She was among volunteers encouraging students on campus Thursday to sign flags with words of encouragement or in remembrance of a life lost and stake it near a new yellow bench painted to raise awareness about suicide prevention.
The bench is inscribed with the National Suicide Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK(8255).
It’s in the plaza outside the HUB Building on Monocacy Street on the Bethlehem campus, serving as a beacon of hope to those who may need it.
Removing the stigma of seeking help
The nonprofit organization Josh’s Benches for Awareness dedicates benches to schools and other public areas to raise awareness about mental health issues and resources to help.
Its goal is to remove the negative stigma surrounding the receiving of help.
“They want to find hope, they want to let the pain that they're feeling go, and that's the only way they can. We should not stigmatize them, but rather, we should help them through it.”Neema Mburu, psychology student at Moravian University
"Josh’s Benches for Awareness had reached out to us over the summer and said that they wanted to donate a bench and we were very excited," said Rosemarie Williams, Moravian University's counseling center director of operations.
“Having more education, having even the counseling centers face out there, so students feel destigmatized in seeking help and having wellness in their life, the more we can promote that and come together as a community is really important."
She was part of the bench unveiling and promoting help available on campus.
“We know that there's a lot of unique stressors on our college students that maybe they haven't had in the past and so just having extra levels of support and different resources," Williams said.
Students lined up to be a part of the bench unveiling and support the cause on campus.
“It's important to just educate the community because sometimes we look at suicide like a weakness or, people would say, an easy way out," Mburu said in conclusion.
"But one thing we need to know is that those people that actually committed suicide, they're struggling one way or another.
“They want to find hope, they want to let the pain that they're feeling go, and that's the only way they can. We should not stigmatize them, but rather, we should help them through it.”
Those in need of counseling also can call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.