Page 12-B-Thursday, September 10, 1981-The Michigan Daily
High pressure a nemesis of
By PAMELA KRAMER
Mary, a University student, told
each of her housemates individually
that she was considering killing herself.
They all respected her wishes not to tell
anyone, and each thought none of the
others knew about the problem.
Several weeks later, Mary hanged
herself in her basement.
One of the most popular myths
surrounding suicide is that people who
threaten will not actually go through
"THAT'S JUST NOT true," said Er-
nest Rosemond, a peer counselor at the
University's 76-GUIDE service and
founder of "Students Concerned about
Suicide." "Most people who commit
suicide have told someone that they
were thinking about it. That's a cry for.
Suicide is the second most common
cause of death for people between the
aged of 15 and 24, and more college
students. commit 'suicide that non-
students of the same age group. Fifteen
out of every 100,000 college students kill
themselves, according to Rosemond.
In 1980 there was one "successful"
suicide and there were four attempts by
University students on campus, accor-
ding to the University Department of
BUT THERE ARE no figures
available for attempted and successful
student suicides that occur off-campus.
Rosemond said that two years ago he
knew of seven suicides that had hap-
pened within one year, but since then he
has stopped keeping records. A group
called PEACE (Psychistric Emergen-
cy :Assistance Coordination Effort) is
currently working on collecting reports
of ;attempted and successful student
suicides to help guide the University's
trehtment of the problem.
'!It would be assumed that academics
are the major cause of college suicides,
but some studies have found that it is
lack of emotional involvement,"
Rosemond said. "But each case is in-
Social, adademic stress
takes toll on campus
dividual. There are economic reasons,
personal problems, and parental
A COMMON assumption is that
students attending a school with a high
reputation like the University's are
"together" enough to handle the stress
of a competitive atmosphere - they
aren't the "types" to kill themselves.
But there is no "type" of person who
is more likely to commit suicide than
someone else, Rosemand said.
"I've had undergraduates with
problems, that never appeared
suicidal," agreed Stuart McDougal,
associate professor of English. "But
then, I had an acquaintance in college
who committed suicide, and I wouldn't
have called him suicidal, either."
STUDENTS ATTENDING stress
workshops have told Rosemond the
pressure of knowing their parents are
paying thousands of dollars for their
education can cause severe feelings of
"Students are very grade-
conscious," said Paul Pandero, a
teaching assistant in the Spanish depar-
tment. "I do feel pressure from them.
They can get very emotional, but we
just sit down and discuss it."
Rosemond said faculty and residence
hall staff should watch for signs of
suicidal potential. These include sud-
den neglect of school work, unusual
disregard for personal health and
cleanliness, and repeated talk of death,
"INTERVENTION SHOULD not be
seen as an invasion of privacy, but an
act of caring," he said. "Talking to
someone if they seem down is impor-
Peer counselors at 76-GUIDE receive
many third-party calls from people
concerned about their friends'
behavior, and they encourage their
resident advisors if they notice changes
in a students' behavior.
"We (residence hall advisors and
directors) have a suicide and
depression training seminar at the
beginning of each year," said William
Tedford, Administrative assistant at
East Quad. "We're provided with a list
of counseling services, and the staff
comes up with a consensus of which
ones are best for various conditions."
MOST ATTEMPTED suicides are
reported to resident directors or ad-
ministrative assistants, Tedford said,
and the building director makes con-
stant follow-ups. "When it actually
happens the first time, it can really
have some effect (on the RA)," he said..
There can also be severe effects on
roommates and friends. "Three years
ago there was an attempt that had
drastic effects on the roommate, who
ended up needing more counseling
than the student (who had attempted
the suicide)," Tedford said.
To help deal with this problem,
Rosemond said he would like to begin a
"pick-up-the-pieces" workshop for
friends, family, and acquaintances of
students who have attempted suicide.
"THERE ARE feelings of shock,
sadness, sometimes a sense of respon-
sibility," Rosemond said. "A lot of
people don't realize they have the right
to be angry . .. and (when there is a
successful suicide) they have to be able
to deal with things like phone calls and
mail that keeps coming for the
But understanding preventive action
is the top priority, Rosemond added.
There are several counseling services
available to students through the
University and the city designed to help
students with both crisis situations and
daily stress problems.
The Counseling Services Office in the
Michigan Union is one of the free cen-
ters open to students.
"WE'RE TRYING to get rid of the
idea that you walk in the door and
you're already all set for therapy," said
Dr. Evie Gauthier, director of the of-
She said she would like to see the
walk-in consultation as a time to sort
out what the issues are, and what
resources are available to deal with an
"We could finish up in one session, in
some cases," she said.
ANOTHER MYTH the office tries to
dispel is that "you don't need to be sick
to see a counselor," Gauthier said. The
office sees roughly 1,500 new students
per year, and that figure doubles when
returning clients are included.
Enhancement of living conditions is a
major part of the work done in Coun-
seling Services. "Many people can get
through life without counseling, but
help with skills in relationships and
decision-making can enhance (Univer-
sity life)," Gauthier said.
Although there is still some stigma
associated by students with counseling,
Gauthier said she has found most
University students fairly
"sophisticated," and able to recognize
the benefits of a counseling service and.
the ways it can be useful. Also, she
and Rosemond agree, because the of-
fice operates on such a large scale,
students feel at ease in the atmosphere.
All spokespersons contacted declared
that their daily meetings with students
are kept confidential.
PARENTS OCCASIONALLY contact
the office for consultation counseling,
but "we can't even acknowledge if
someone has been here," Gauthier
The office also provides special
weight-loss, religious, academic
anxiety, and pregnancy-related coun-
seling, and there are offices in the
Union dealing with human sexuality
and minority counseling (the effect of
budget cuts on the latter is as yet
According to Gauthier, there is a
balance in students' lives between sup-
port resources (friends, classes,
familiarity with one's environment)
and demands. Often this balance is
thrown off kilter when students arrive
at the University, finding a strange
surroundings and knowing few or no
THE BALANCE could be thrown off
for people who have been here for
years, she added, when their friends
graduate and move away. "The coun-
seling office is an extra support,"
Gauthier explained. "Or sometimes,
people would like to talk to someone
who is not directly involved in their
The Counseling Center, located at
1007 E. Huron, is another resource
available to students. It offers help free
to students with such problems as
achieving psychological independence,
clarifying identity, and developing the
ability to work constructively as well as
have intimate relations.
Relationships are, according to
Rosemond and Gauthier, a major
reason for students to seek coun-
ANOTHER IMPORTANT program is
the University Hospital-Psychiatric ;
Hospitals Emergency Service, located,
on the fourth level of the Outpatient
Building. It offers emergency and crisis.,
evaluation, intervention, and acute
treatment by psychiatrists, social
workers, clinical nurses, and mental.
health workers. Although officials of
this program prefer that people call
before coming in, many contacts are by
walk-in. Payment is on a sliding-fee
scale and no person is denied service
because of inability to pay.
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