By Victoria Rivera
Thanks to social media, topics of suicide have been more widely spoken about in recent years, but they remain still a bit taboo. Often to those who cannot relate, having suicidal thoughts can be seen as selfish ‑ a “choice” you should know will cause people pain, the “coward’s way out” or even an outright malevolent act rather than the cry for help. This attitude discourages people from reaching out for help, causing more tragedies than it prevents.
According to the CDC, 30 percent of female students experienced suicidal ideation in 2021, while men have a rate of about 14 percent.
The National Institute of Mental Health also said suicide is among the leading causes of death in college students and young adults in general based on studies conducted from 2019 through 2021. Rates are only growing higher by the year, and keeping quiet only makes it easier to ignore.
Suicidal ideation can come from a variety of messy factors, but one of the greatest influences is isolation.
Landry Weatherston-Yarborough, an executive director for the Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center, helps individuals who are feeling overwhelmed in this way.
“Loneliness is a significant predictor of both suicidal ideation and behavior, with depression acting as a mediator," she said. "Just because you feel lonely, it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll feel depressed or will have thoughts of suicide; but it does raise the risk.”
Loneliness is further defined as being a desire to “seek connection.” Through feelings of loneliness comes a crippling cycle of telling oneself you don’t deserve to seek help.
Weatherston-Yarborough described it as an unchallenged loop of longing for help while being too afraid to reach out for it, resulting in only growing more withdrawn.
“I don't mind being alone, but at the same time I feel like it can become destructive,” said Ariel Alibocas, a senior marine biology major. “I will start to push people away, and it tends to put strain on my relationships with friends. I feel that having the right support system can actually help with my destructive side of wanting to be alone because those people would be there and try to help me.”
Everyone finds comfort in others in their own way. It does not have to be a large friend group intervention, nor does it have to be an entirely intimate one-on-one talk.
It may be talking to friends online, big friendly outings or simply talking to a parent. The smallest conversation or gesture can go a long way.
“I do think that loneliness is a thing. Even in high school, I felt it. I didn’t know anyone for the first few weeks. I felt like I would go crazy because I only talked to my parents and teachers every day. It got better after I made a friend,” said Rebecca Stevens, a sophomore clinical biology major. “I felt it here too. If I didn’t talk to my roommate, people in class, and my parents, I would go crazy.”
Recovery is difficult, and even scary, but those first steps are important. Simply taking a stumble by trying to reach out still gets you closer to that help.
Ignoring suicidal thoughts and other warning signs, like the desire to self-harm, feeling like a burden, and under or over sleeping, will not make them go away.
They must be addressed no matter how shameful it may feel in the moment. There are always options.
If you feel uncomfortable with speaking to others, or otherwise feel you have no one in your life to speak to, Barry University offers free psychological services at the Center of Counseling and Psychological Services in the Landon Student Union, room 105. Call to make an appointment at 305-899-3950.