Educate yourself on suicide awareness



Did you know that suicide is the second most common reason for death among college students? 

Sometimes those who seem to have it all together and everything seems to be promising in their life, are the very ones whose hearts cry out for help. According to 1,100 college students take their own life per year. This is a true tragedy. 

“Every person is different, but suicidal ideation is a preoccupation with the idea of suicide. Feelings of hopelessness and despair may derive from adverse life experiences, depression, and/or mood disorders, increasing the risk for suicidal ideation,” said Carla Whitehead, Mental Wellness Counselor at USM Student Counseling Services. 

“Suicidal ideation is a complex experience that we are still learning a lot about. What we know is that there are a variety of risk factors that can contribute to experiencing suicidal thoughts. This can range from a variety of experiences such as depression and other mental health disorders, life stressors such as the loss of a job, feelings of hopelessness, trauma, and other personal, social, or environmental risk factors,” said Dr. Kristy McRaney, director for USM Center for Behavioral Health. 

USM has several resources made available to its students such at the Center for Behavioral Health as well at Student Counseling Services. If you or anyone you know are going through a mentally disturbing time, please reach out. Even if you just need someone to listen to you, please seek refuge in one of these services. 

“The Center for Behavioral Health provides evidence-based care and risk assessment. We conduct thorough and evidence-based assessments with our clients. When individuals are experiencing suicidal ideation, we work to help understand the level of risk that is associated with their thoughts, and then work to help keep them safe,” said Dr. McRaney. “We can often do this by increasing the safety of their environment, such as removing access to potential means of suicide, and increasing psychological coping by outlining skills that can be used when they are having thoughts of suicide.” 

  “The University of Southern Mississippi prioritizes advocacy for physical and mental wellness through an encompassing directory provided by the Center for Student Success: (,” said Whitehead. “Information is readily available for students to learn about options for crisis support on campus and off campus, which includes, but not limited to calling or texting 988, the free Suicide Crisis Lifeline, Student Counseling Services, 911, or the University Police Dept.” 

Did you know the for currently enrolled students, you are able to receive free counseling services? Sometimes, the fear of having to pay someone to just hear you out can be dehumanizing especially if you are not in a good place. Take advantage of this opportunity. The Student Counseling service also offers what is called an “Eagle Eye”. These Eagle Eyes help assist those in an immediate crisis during business hours. If you need someone outside of business hours, you may call 601.606.HELP (4357) which is available to currently enrolled students. 

“In addition to ongoing research efforts in the School of Psychology that are focused on learning more about what puts people at risk for suicide and developing new approaches to preventing it, the school also hosts an annual Out of the Darkness fundraising walk in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The fundraiser is spearheaded by Dr. Daniel Capron’s Suicide and Emotion Dysregulation Lab and students. Since the inception of the walk, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised to help local and national suicide prevention efforts,” said Dr. McRaney. 

The sixth annual USM Out of the Darkness Fundraising Walk will be held on March 4, 2023. You can register or donate at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) website. For more information on this event, you can contact Morgan Buerke at [email protected].