Sept. 9 through Sept. 15 is National Suicide Prevention Week, and Lost and Found and the Cook House are organizing a variety of activities to raise awareness about mental illness and suicide.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall and the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-24 in the U.S. in 2016.
Lost and Found is an organization on campus whose goal is to “build resilient people in hopes to prevent suicide.” They offer a place for students to learn positive coping methods and form bonds with other students so they have a place to go if they need help with a mental illness.
Rebecca Earl, junior social work major and director of membership and recruitment for Lost and Found said their bi-weekly meetings are focused on giving students time to talk and relax as well as participate in activities.
“At our meetings, we’re not just sitting around a table and talking,” Earl said. “We do tie-dye and stress relief, we do yoga, and we do Nicki’s Run, which is a one-mile 5k.”
Earl said that while they are a good support system on campus, students should still see the counseling center at the Cook House if they have any issue they want to discuss.
“Usually we recommend (students) go to the counseling center but if they need someone to come sit with them or something we welcome them,” Earl said. “We just understand that it’s something people have that they can’t control and they just want to be better and let people know they’re normal and not let their illness define them.”
Ben Severson, prevention coordinator for the Cook House said they’re doing sidewalk art to raise awareness for the event.
“We’re handing out packs of chalk and if (students) draw something I want them to take a picture of it and email it to me,” Severson said. “I can put it up on our Facebook page and they’ll get a free t-shirt.”
The Cook House is located at the corner of Willow Street and Clark Street, and Severson said the doors are always open to students who need help.
“You can walk in, you can call and make an appointment,” Severson said. “Oftentimes students actually are referred here or walked over by other professors or maybe an RA or someone like that who has a concern about a student.”
Both Lost and Found and the Cook House have tables in the Muenster University Center during National Suicide Prevention Week.
The Cook House is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday all year round and are available at 605-677-5777.