California launches suicide info site

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In an attempt to help curb suicidal behavior, the California Mental Health Services Authority has launched a website with details on how to deal with suicidal events for oneself and others.

The website, SuicideIsPreventable.org, gives directions about reaching suicide hotlines, recognizing suicidal tendencies, creating a dialogue with suicidal friends and family and becoming involved with spreading awareness about suicide prevention.

With the motto, “Know the Signs,” the site is meant help prevent individuals from hurting themselves. It offers hotline phone numbers and support for depressed individuals or anyone who knows people who portray that behavior.

Anara Guard, suicide prevention advisor for the website, wanted it to be clear that while the website is meant to educate, it should not be a substitute for the suicide hotline. The website is meant to create a dialogue with friends or family who might be at risk.

“Some years ago, Proposition 63 passed in California which resulted in tax dollars being devoted to various mental health services,” said Guard. “A portion of that is dedicated to suicide prevention and one of the activities that those funds are supporting is the statewide social marketing campaign aimed at suicide prevention. That’s the emphasis for the website.”

According to Guard, the dialogue listed on the website is mostly meant for early intervention for suicidal individuals. She added that all the materials available on the site had been tested on focus groups and used in real situations dealing with suicide.

The site also tells individuals what not to say in a situation dealing with a suicidal friend or relative. Dialogue from the website is meant to encourage a healthy intervention and discourages negative phrases being said toward the suicidal individual.

For individuals with an imminent risk of suicide, friends and family members are recommended to contact a crisis center with a trained advisor, which can be reached at a local or national-level hotline.

In the case of suicidal students on campus, they are recommended to talk to the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) that Cal State Fullerton offers. The office is made to deal specifically with suicidal students both with and without appointments.

Brandon Gamboa, 21, a marketing major, said a California-based website and CSUF counseling would be a benefit for anyone faced with suicidal thoughts because of the help it provides for both the individual and friend or family of the afflicted.

“It seems like the main cause of suicide is that (suicidal people) feel they’re alone maybe and that they don’t have anyone to turn to or that no one else has the same problems as them,” said Gamboa. “So that helps to know that they’re not alone and that there are other options.”

Leah Brew, Ph.D., chair for the Department of Counseling, said there are various ways individuals could deal with depression and that some faculty members are trained to deal with possible suicidal students.

“I think probably the best approach is to pull a student aside away from other students, possibly in your office if it’s possible, to ask them is they’re doing OK if they seem a little depressed,” said Brew. “If they don’t seem to be doing OK, then you can actually walk over a student over to CAPs and CAPs will do their best to take that student who is in a crisis situation.”

Vanessa Molina, 26, a psychology major, said the website and the CSUF counseling center are good for anyone dealing with suicidal thoughts as well as anyone who has never dealt with a suicidal individual.

“The more resources available the better,” said Molina. “Anything that could help the person that’s struggling,” she said.

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