VIEWPOINT: Help for struggling students

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We extend our deepest sympathies to Andrew Siebenaler’s family and friends as they mourn his recent death. His parents’ gracious permission to allow Marquette to speak openly about his death allows us the chance to educate the campus community and ultimately provide a message of hope. We are grateful to them and know they will always be part of our Marquette family.

Suicide can be unexpected but is not mysterious. It is generally the result of a complex set of factors rather than a single trigger, such as academic stress or relationship problems. In the aftermath of a suicide, please consider the following:

• There are many responses to suicide, including shock, sadness, anger or sometimes no emotional response at all. Everyone reacts differently. Feeling guilty is also normal, as is asking the question, “Why?”

• Our attention must be focused on recovery and prevention. Focusing on the details of a suicide is unhealthy and unproductive.

• Those affected by suicide are encouraged to return to normal college life. This is not forgetting or ignoring. Everyday activities and structure help us to cope.

Students, remember that there are many resources on campus. You all are part of the Marquette family and university personnel care about your well-being. If you are struggling with an emotional problem or suicidal feelings, please let us help you. Many students use the services of the Counseling Center, but there are campus ministers, food service providers, hall directors, professors, advisers and numerous others who would listen and point you in the right direction.

If you are interested in counseling or a prevention program, the Counseling Center can be contacted at (414) 288-7172. There is also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You may consider attending an event by Active Minds, a student-led mental health advocacy group, or doing service work for Mental Health America (www.nmha.org) or the National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org).

Even in the wake of a suicide, we still consider suicide the most preventable mortality. Our best strategy is for all of us to be educated about suicide and campus resources. With your help we will continue to strengthen our campus safety net and try to catch anyone who is at risk.

Mike Zebrowski is the director of the Counseling Center.