City College Mental Health Services Gears Up Faculty, Staff Amid Suicide Rate Spike

By Shawn Ree Canin

One person dies of suicide every 11 minutes in the United States, according to 2020 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

City College is taking measures to offer resources and assistance for mental health to its students as suicide rates grow nationwide. More than 50% of community college students exhibit indications of mental health disorders, according to a recent study. Among the most impacted are students of color, LGBTQ+, veterans, and those from low-income backgrounds. Their rates of services were also the lowest.

The Student Health Services have started a number of programs to prevent suicide and promote mental wellness on campus in response to this growing epidemic. In a recent presentation for Flex Day on March 7, Sandy Vaughn, a mental health counselor, instructed faculty and staff on how to spot critical warning signs and how to assist students.

Among the risk factors that contribute to suicide include loss of housing, financial problems, problematic substance abuse, relationship or physical problems, and a crisis in the past or present, among many others.
Other signs among students include repeated absences, a decline in the quality of work, repeatedly appearing sick, excessively tired, and sudden uplift in the mood without reason.

“They [people with suicidal thoughts] don’t want to kill themselves; they want the pain to stop… That’s the motivation for suicide. And they don’t see a way out,” says Vaughn. “We help them to see a way out. We share with them the possibilities. We connect them with resources that give them hope.”

If any of these critical warning signs are present in a person: threatening to hurt or kill oneself, making plans for suicide like purchasing a weapon or stockpiling pills, talking, writing, or posting about dying: the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number 988 and Suicide Prevention Lifeline number 1-800-273-TALK (8255) are available 24/7. San Francisco Crisis Line is also available 24/7 with the number 415-970-4000.

City College Mental Health Services is available free of charge to credit students to connect them with trained counselors that cater to different needs, backgrounds, and languages. To set an appointment, students can contact number 415-239-3110. They have psychotherapy and resources crucial in supporting and assisting during difficult times.

City College’s efforts to prevent suicide also include creating a culture of care and support on campus. The college has established peer-to-peer support groups: Project SURVIVE, Peer Educators Office, Women’s Resource Center, Family Resource Center, and Queer Resource Center, among others. These groups offer a safe and supportive environment where students can connect with others who understand their experiences and feelings.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress and uncertainty in students’ lives, making it more critical for schools and colleges to prioritize mental wellness. City College aims to have a more proactive approach to suicide prevention and overall well-being for students. More information about mental health services can be found on the CCSF website.

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