Georgia State asks students “are you ok?” for suicide prevention

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Sucide Prevention

When it comes to those you love — or even barely know — it’s always a good idea to do mental health checks, according to Georgia State’s senior director of Psychological and Health Services Jill Lee-Barber. Sometimes, simply asking, “Are you ok?” is enough to give someone the chance to share what could have led them to contributing to that statistic.

On Sept. 12, Georgia State’s Counseling and Testing Center hosted their first “R YOU O.K.? Walk” in acknowledgement of National Suicide Prevention Month. The walk was to support students, staff and faculty asking the very question, “Are you ok?”

Simply asking another person if they are okay when we are concerned and really listening to the answer can make a huge difference,” Lee-Barber said. 

At the event, the center provided a table with resources so students could make their own posters to carry along the walk. As the group began the walk, they stopped to speak to about 50 students and ask them the question of the day, according to Lee-Barber. 

“Depression often first appears during the teenage and college years,” Lee-Barber said. “So, it’s really important to look out for the warning signs during those years.”

Georgia State has several other events planned this semester to encourage mental health awareness. 

The Counseling and Testing Center will be hosting another event, Healthy State of Mind, in October to teach suicide prevention programming along with the recent Depression Screening Day on Thursday on the Atlanta campus. 

During high stress times of the year, the center holds “Pounce on Joy’s,” which are pop-up events where students are given notes of encouragement and snacks to help them study and are provided information regarding counseling resources, according to Lee-Barber.

“Getting the word out to students that there is hope and also free on-campus help, [is key],” she said.

The center also has monthly training programs planned for 2019, called QPRs — Question, Persuade, Refer — to teach others how they can help those they are concerned about. 

Depression can affect so many people in so many ways, and checking in on one another is a small, easy and meaningful way to play a part in preventing depression, and sometimes even suicide. Asking a simple question and showing a little care can go a very long way.