UA needs suicide prevention hotline for students

Carolyn Duke | Staff Columnist

While speaking with a good friend about her contribution on campus during her college years, she spoke of one of her most rewarding and challenging volunteer involvements while at Texas A&M University. While getting her undergraduate degree at A&M, she was a part of the volunteer team at the HelpLine. This hotline provides students on campus with a resource in their times of need 
and desperation.

Overseen and run by the Student Counseling Service of Texas A&M, the HelpLine, “provides, by telephone, peer support, information, referrals, and crisis assessment and intervention for Texas A&M students.” The HelpLine, according to the Texas A&M Student Counseling Service website, was founded in 1995 and is staffed by students at A&M. It provides students in need with someone to talk to from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. on weekdays and all hours of 
the weekend.

The University of Alabama has a resourceful and beneficial counseling center that provides help for students in need for psychological and counseling needs. Our UA Police Department also provides an outstanding service to students in need. But another resource that The University of Alabama could use would be an organization that provides a hotline for students who may need someone to talk to.

Suicide rates have increased between the years of 2011 and 2012, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (The change in rate of suicides in the U.S. reports for 2013 and 2014 have not yet been published). With increasing rates, suicide and suicide prevention should be more actively discussed. The third leading cause of death in people from the ages 15 to 24 is suicide, according to statistics from Emory University, making the discussion of this topic even more pressing.

The establishment of a suicide hotline or a hotline similar to the HelpLine at Texas A&M would be valuable in numerous ways for students and Alabama’s campus overall. The start of a hotline would provide students who may be depressed or have no one to turn to with a listening ear. Attending college at a large university like Alabama, especially at the beginning of the semester when students may not have made many friends yet, it is incredibly easy for someone to fly under the radar. With a UA hotline available, the service can encourage students to talk to someone about their problems if they feel like they have no one to turn to during their time of need.

A hotline catered to students will provide an empowering experience for volunteers and possible staff. If similar to the HelpLine of Texas A&M, any major could volunteer to anonymously help UA students in need and also provide students perusing a career in counseling some experience and opportunities to make sure they will truly 
enjoy counseling.

Parents sending their children off to the University could also have more comfort knowing that Alabama has a resource for their children if they are in need of 
someone to talk to.

Every student must endure a rough patch or two during their college career. This time spent away from home will be dynamic and often times overwhelming. A hotline tailored for students in distress can make a student’s experience in college more fulfilling and easier. Whether a student is dealing with a mental illness, loneliness or just stressful times, a hotline could be a positive outlet for students. A hotline will not end issues, but it can allow for relief and make the adjustment to college smoother. Universities are becoming more stressful, and the addition of a hotline to the already superb services provided for students can only improve life on campus.

Carolyn Duke is a sophomore majoring in secondary education. Her 
column runs biweekly.

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