Pictured are (front row from left): Taylor Petersal, Active Minds member at Hiram College; Samantha Hughes, President of Active Minds at Hiram College; Hannah Sharma, Hiram College’s Counseling intern. Back row from left: Jacob Henderson, Active Minds member at Hiram College; Dr. Kevin Feisthamel, Director of Counseling Health & Disability Services at Hiram College; Dr. Joel Mowrey, Executive Director of Portage County Mental Health & Recovery Board; Paul Dages, Emergency Services Coordinator Townhall II; Micaela Lippert, Vice President of Active Minds at Hiram College.
Pictured are (front row from left): Taylor Petersal, Active Minds member at Hiram College; Samantha Hughes, President of Active Minds at Hiram College; Hannah Sharma, Hiram College’s Counseling intern. Back row from left: Jacob Henderson, Active Minds member at Hiram College; Dr. Kevin Feisthamel, Director of Counseling Health & Disability Services at Hiram College; Dr. Joel Mowrey, Executive Director of Portage County Mental Health & Recovery Board; Paul Dages, Emergency Services Coordinator Townhall II; Micaela Lippert, Vice President of Active Minds at Hiram College.

Active Minds of Hiram College held a panel discussion on suicide prevention as part of their “Green Week” – a week of mental health awareness activities on campus. Students gathered during their lunch hour to hear from mental health professionals about preventing suicide and local resources.

Active Minds Hiram is a local chapter of a national organization whose mission is to promote awareness about mental health and decrease stigma towards it on campus.

Warning signs and risk factors for suicide vary by age, and often occur in combinations. Students should watch for friends who have withdrawn from regular social activities, are talking about ending their life, or are feeling hopeless.

“Ask the person if he is ok,” said Hannah Sharma, a counseling intern at Hiram College “Just taking the time to listen to someone who is troubled can make an enormous impact.” Dr. Mowrey, Executive Director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County, added that “it is a good idea to ask the person if they are considering killing him or herself.  It is a myth that if you ask if a person is suicidal that you will make them suicidal.”

An audience member asked what a person should do if their friend confides that they are considering suicide, but asks you not to tell anyone. “I would rather have a friend alive and mad at me than no longer living,” said Paul Dages Emergency Services Coordinator of Townhall II.

Dages urged students to call the Townhall II hotline at 330-678-4357. “As required by our certification with the American Association of Suicidology, our policy is if you call our hotline and are concerned about your loved one, we will call them if you provide their phone number.”

“What people are looking for is for their emotional pain and suffering to end and sometimes view suicide as a way to end the pain,” said Dr. Feisthamel, Director of Counseling Health & Disability Services at Hiram College. “Fortunately most people do not want their life to end and are open to alternatives that help them relieve their pain and feel better.”

Short term counseling is available on the Hiram campus for all students at the health center.

Portage County residents can call either Townhall II at 330-678-4357 or Coleman Access at 330-296-3555 for crisis support.