By Nani Lawrence
Last semester, The Round Up/Oncore Magazine ran a story detailing the demise of the Crisis Assistance Listening Line (C.A.L.L.), a publicly and privately funded, NMSU-housed hot-and-warm-line meant to prevent callers from attempting or thinking about suicide.
Suicide has always been a prominent subject in New Mexico, particularly in the Borderland region, and the shutting down of the C.A.L.L., which was the only program of its kind in southern New Mexico, at first concerned community members, and then things quieted down.
That was, until the start of the new year and the new semester.
Miguel Silva, a former Las Cruces City Councilor and NMSU alumnus, died January 17, 2016, by suicide, police said.
Though Silva’s motives are not known, the news prompted New Mexico State University’s Counseling Center to reach out and let the NMSU community know about their free and confidential services.
“There is some stigma associated with seeking (mental) help, especially counseling help,” says Karen Schaefer, director of the Counseling Center. “Society is somewhat supportive and somewhat not, especially for men.”
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. among all age groups, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“In 2014, an estimated 15.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year,” reads the fact sheet on the official website for the National Institute of Mental Health.
The defunding of the C.A.L.L. is such a concern that Lawrence Hittle, who is currently running for president of the Associated Students of NMSU, has made it one of his main focuses.
“One of the good things about (the C.A.L.L.) is that we want to prevent people from getting suicidal. If you talk to them when they’re depressed or in these earlier stages, you can prevent them from ever getting suicidal,” Hittle says.
He said approximately three percent of the calls placed to the C.A.L.L. were suicide related. The rest were “warm-line” calls or calls from people who just needed someone to talk to.
If elected ASNMSU president, Hittle says, he will work with NMSU’s student Senate to reallocate $12,000 to reinstate the C.A.L.L.
Over the summer, the Counseling Center will be working on developing workshops via Canvas to help with resiliency, in this case the ability to bounce back from stressful events, and mindfulness.
“I think the climate is changing,” Schaefer said. “We’re getting students coming in who have already had counseling in the past, who are on medications, (and) some who have been hospitalized. More and more people are receptive to getting help (as opposed to older generations),” she says.
Appointments with the Counseling Center can be scheduled at (575) 646-2731 or in person at Garcia Annex, room 100. All staff are trained in mental health services, and bilingual counselors are available.
Common signs of a mental struggle, according to MentalHealth.gov, include for mood disorders:
- Feeling sad all the time
- Losing interest in important parts of life
- Fluctuating between extreme happiness and extreme sadness.
For mental health and substance abuse disorders, they involve:
- Certain illegal drugs can cause people with an addiction to experience one or more symptoms of a mental health problem
- Mental health problems can sometimes lead to alcohol or drug use, as some people with a mental health problem may misuse these substances as a form of self-medication
- Mental and substance use disorders share some underlying causes, including changes in brain composition, genetic vulnerabilities, and early exposure to stress or trauma
Warning signs for suicide are:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings