WILLISTON, N.D. - Williston State College observed World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 by raising awareness on campus, challenging students, faculty and staff to talk about suicide to help with its prevention.
WSC Counseling Services set up a table in Stevens Hall with a white poster board that grew into a collaborative art project. The poster board quickly filled up with helpful things to say, supportive signatures and messages to those remembered.
"For some, it was a casual process that didn't require much thought. For many, there were some tears and strong emotions," said Leah Hoffman, LAC, Mental Health Counselor at Williston State College. "It is not realistic to expect everyone to be comfortable talking about suicide, but this was a real opportunity to have a conversation about it and explain where to go for help."
With a shortage of mental health professionals in the area, WSC is fortunate to have a full-time counselor on staff with free services available to students. Hoffman treats each student holistically. While colleges typically place more emphasis academics and physical health, at WSC Hoffman feels that mental health is equally important. "When our students are at a good place mentally, it sets us up to perform better in the classroom," Hoffman explained.
Hoffman works hard to overcome the negative stigma associated with mental health and people reaching out for help. "I do feel like we are making progress in reducing that stigma and showing people that asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength," Hoffman added. "I am seeing several students per day and can already see a large influx compared to last year, which was my first year on campus."
Hoffman is available during business hours; after hours, her phone is forwarded to counselors at First Link Hotline in Fargo. These counselors are trained in suicide prevention as well, and this allows our students and employees to have 24/7 access to a real person for help. Also, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1 (800) 273-8255 is always available.
For more information on World Suicide Prevention Day visit: www.iasp.info/wspd
For information about Counseling Services at WSC, contact Leah Hoffman, at 701.774.4212.
For any information regarding WSC, please visit www.willistonstate.edu,
call 1.888.863.9455, or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND.