September is Suicide Awareness Month, a month dedicated to informing the nation about the large amount of suicides committed each year.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) more than one million people die each year from suicide globally. Americans account for about 44,000 of these suicides, with suicide ranking as the tenth highest cause of death in the United States.

With firearms accounting for 49.8% of suicides in our nation, many states have passed laws raising the age to own a handgun to 21 to try and lower the rate of suicide.

However, I do not believe that this measure can be effective. If the person trying to commit suicide is under the legal age to buy a gun, that does not mean there is not already a gun in their house that their parents own.

More than anything, it is noteworthy that suicide has a psychological mentality to it. This being said, making it more difficult to obtain anything used for suicide, whether it be guns, pills, or poison will not help prevent the suicide. Those who really feel it necessary to end their lives will find another way.

I feel the best option is to focus more on organizations that are willing to talk with people who want to commit suicide instead of trying to make it more difficult to obtain commonly used suicide devices.

Instead, if we focus our attention to create organizations of people willing to help, we could stop people from thinking they are worthless or thinking they are just a burden.

If we were to successfully decrease suicide as a nation, we must focus on changing that destructive mentality inside the mind of those who want to commit suicide. There are ways for people to help those suffering from a mental illness and suicidal thoughts.

Luckily, our campus offers a counseling center to help those struggling. Our counseling center is located on the 6th floor of the administration building and is directed by Brain Cook.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to receive Brain Cook’s pespective about the tragic topic. I asked him, “Do you think that our society currently does enough to stop suicide?”

Cook responded, “I think there are efforts out there trying to prevent suicide, but we could always do more.” Cook furthered that it is not always clear when someone is suffering. The suffering of those inflicted by mental illnesses may go unnoticed and therefore do not receive support when they need it.

He stated that in his experience, “students frequently come to me feeling hopeless, thinking life is not worth much, and thinking that no one is there for them, but feeling that way is never justified because there are always people willing to help.”

I concur with everything Cook said and am glad that our campus offers the services that he provides to our students. Suicide will not go away overnight, but as long as we continue to work together as a nation to fight it I am hopeful that we will see far less suicides in the future.

If someone’s behavior or words makes you feel uneasy, but it is not an immediate threat to you or others, then you may want to contact the Student Affairs Office at 570.208.5875, the Counseling Center at 570.208.5873 or Campus Security and Safety (College switchboard) at 570.208.5900.