CAPS offers trainings to identify suicidal factors

Chloe Stewart

On college campuses nationwide, suicide is the second most common cause of death among students.

Combined with higher levels of depression and anxiety in students than in years past, many colleges have created programs, such as OSU’s Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention trainings, to combat suicide and help students work through mental illness.

The trainings seek to teach students, staff and faculty about the warnings signs of depressive episodes and suicidal thoughts and the resources available to help people who are feeling suicidal through presentations and role-play exercises.

These trainings are free and open to everyone at OSU with training available online on the Counseling and Psychological Services website.

According to Michele Ribeiro, interim assistant director of mental health promotion at CAPS, one of the biggest problems with suicide prevention is that people who are feeling suicidal often do not reach out for help.

“People don’t really want to die,” Ribeiro said. “They don’t see in that moment what other options there are, but when someone intervenes, then all of a sudden they have this notion that somebody cares. The power of somebody just reaching out and saying ‘I care, you’re important,’ is so powerful.”

According to Jim Gouveia, suicide prevention coordinator at CAPS, depression and suicidal thought are very treatable.

“It’s such a permanent action for an impermanent problem,” Gouveia said. “Once it’s addressed, we have great results (…) The research is phenomenal around people getting better if they actually reach out.”

According to Ribeiro, the feedback on the results of these programs have been overwhelmingly positive. CAPS can keep track of feedback and patient progress with questionnaires completed by patients.

Students who come into CAPS with suicidal thoughts often show major reductions in those thoughts within two counseling sessions. There were no completed suicide attempts on the OSU campus last year and none so far this year.

According to Gouveia, the impacts of suicide can reach everyone in the community.

“Even if you don’t know the person who dies, we all are impacted by a suicide,” Gouveia said. “The ripple effect is so huge and so damaging.”

According to Director of CAPS Ian Kellems, CAPS has been working the last few years to expand their clinical services and their educational and anti-stigma campaigns. An important goal for CAPS, according to Kellems, is to create a community-wide network of care.

“CAPS is doing a lot to help students,” Kellems said. “CAPS can’t be there for everyone, but can create a community of caring. This has to be a group effort to help students. And that includes faculty and staff, academic advisors, people who work in housing and dining (…) Everyone has to be part of the solution.”

In the future, Kellems, Gouveia, and Ribeiro hope to see further expansion of CAPS’s services, including trials of online counseling tools. According to Kellems, one of the most powerful and helpful things that CAPS can do is grant more students access to its services.