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Suicide prevention training aims to educate

Melissa Norris, from the Student Health and Counseling Center, discusses about suicide and how to persuade someone to get help during a training session  in the Henry Madden Library on Thursday. Paul Schesinger / The Collegian

Melissa Norris, from the Student Health and Counseling Center, discusses about suicide and how to persuade someone to get help during a training session in the Henry Madden Library on Thursday. Paul Schesinger / The Collegian

Fresno State Student Health and Counseling Center conducted a free training on Wednesday in which participants were taught the common misconceptions about suicide.

Melissa Norris, coordinator for special projects, said it’s important because it gives the opportunity to open up a dialogue about an issue that can be difficult to talk about.

The prevention training is offered three to four times every semester.  It is also available upon request to different departments on campus to train staff and faculty, or it can be given in a classroom presentation.

“If we don’t know the warning signs, we can’t be expected to intervene or help,” said Norris, who has been covering the topic since 2003.  “I hope the people that have had the training never have to ask those questions or never do lose someone to suicide. But the reality is so many of us do have some experience with it.”

During the prevention training, Norris discussed common suicide warning signs, the best way to approach someone to talk about it and how to persuade and refer someone to the appropriate resources.  Some alarming statistics were also presented, such as the fact that suicide is the third-leading cause of death among college students and those between the ages of 15 and 24.

Participants had the opportunity to practice questioning, persuading and referring people struggling with suicidal thoughts.  This exercise was used to help participants become comfortable with the different approaches if they ever encounter someone who may be suicidal.

Bryana Moreno, who is scheduled to complete her master’s in student affairs and college counseling this year, said everyone can benefit from this learning experience.

“The majority of people that deal with these issues regarding suicide are in the age range of their early adulthood. So I think it’s important to know how to address these issues and know when it’s happening,” Moreno said. “I think this is especially beneficial to all staff members working on a college campus.”

Moreno said she liked learning most about the warning signs and knowing the direct and indirect verbal cues of suicide.  She also learned about the correct approaches of how to discuss the topic through role-playing during the training.

“People don’t wish to die. They wish to end the pain,” Norris said.

The Student Health and Counseling Center offers both individual and group counseling services to students free of cost as a part of their student fees.  There are also walk-in hours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“It’s OK to ask for help, no matter what you’re dealing with,” Norris said.  “Sometimes we just need someone to talk to.”