Students use their phone flash feature to "write" ONU in the dark.

The statistics are too stark to be ignored: suicide is the third leading cause of death for college-age students in the United States. In 2021, 43.4% of 18 to 29-year-olds experienced symptoms of depression compared to 21% in 2017. That same year, a total of 48.5 percent screened for anxiety compared to 11% in 2019.
With these sobering numbers in mind, and with National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week to be recognized from Sept. 6-9, Ohio Northern University has planned campus activities and is emphasizing its year-round Northern-centric resources to help mitigate this epidemic.
Certain preventative actions can be crucial to saving lives, say Anthony Rivera, Psy.D., director of counseling, and Thomas Frost, student affairs coordinator who also serves on the University’s Mental Health Prevention and Awareness Committee. The following are five key suicide prevention takeaways that they suggest the entire ONU community keep in mind and use if needed:
·      Walk-in Wednesdays: Each Wednesday that campus is open, ONU Counseling Center staff will see any student seeking services for the first time, regardless of appointment. Walk-in hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1-4 p.m. Otherwise, confidential appointments that can address a wide variety of issues such as stress, depression, roommate problems and grief can be made by contacting the center at 419-772-2190 or at
·      Tough Topics presentations: Counseling Center staff are available to provide presentations to students, faculty and staff that focus on how to have difficult conversations about mental health. These presentations last from 45 minutes to one hour. They address topics such as when and how to seek therapy or suggest it for a loved one, and emphasizes creating a community of care at ONU.
·      The Oasis Mental Health app: Launched during the 2021-22 academic year, students can scan a QR code and use a texting feature 24/7 to find confidential emotional support. The Oasis app also offers engaging exercises that will support and enhance your wellbeing and mental health, content tailored for college students specific to stress management, relationships, sleep hygiene, anxiety and more.
· Anyone on campus can fill out a form if they are concerned about a student. The concern goes to a small group of staff that make up the Student Behavioral Intervention Team. The reporter can remain anonymous if they’d prefer. A member of the intervention team will reach out to the individual in question to offer support and resources.
·      Counseling Center confidentiality: Accessing center resources is a completely confidential endeavor. The Counseling Center staff strive to create a safe and judgement-free space for students to seek the mental health help they need. During the 2021-22 academic year, 18 percent of the student population accessed Counseling Center services; the national average for those who access resources is about 15%.
For National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week, ONU’s Mental Health Prevention and Awareness Committee will be hosting several events. Some of those will feature:
·      5K GLOW Run/Walk: Open to the public, this event is planned for Thursday, Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. Read the full story about this event, which includes registration information.
·      Colors and Connection Art Workshop on Sept. 6 in McIntosh Center’s Bear Cave.
·      “Every Brilliant Thing” theater production at 7 p.m. Sept. 7 in McIntosh Center’s Bear Cave.
·      Dance out the Stigma line dancing Sept. 8 on Heterick Memorial Library’s patio.
·      Spin-to-Win Wellness Wheel offering students to explore the “pillars of wellness” and win free stuff, on Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in McIntosh Center.
Other resources to access support include:
Crisis Text Line: Text “4HOPE” to 741741
National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988
Local HOPE Line: 1-800-567-4673