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December 11, 1981 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-12-11

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, December 11, 1981-Page 9

Suicide attempts on rise at




(Continued from Pagel)
ad hoc committee of residence hall and
counseling service staff.
The committee will work on
"developing a support network to deal
with the problem, examining what sorts
of things are being done, training staff,
and developing an environment to help
deal with those who have been through
a stressful situation," said Housing
Director Hughes.
D"The challenge is providing an en-
vironment that will link up the student
with the resources," Hughes continued.
"There's a tremendous number of
caring, helping people around this
THE AD HOC committee will raise
some questions about what sorts of
policies the University needs to handle
suicide attempts, said Counseling Ser-
vices Director Korn.
"If stress continues to increase, then
we will have to re-examine our resour-
ces and develop new programs," he
Many University administrators and
staff members say they believe the
University has the resources to help the
depressed or suicidal student, but needs
more help getting that information to
"WE NEED A clearer definition of
who to go to for what kinds of
problems," said West Quad Building
Director Alan Levy. He said he plans to
compile this information for his staff
next month.
East Quad Building Director Lance
Morrow said the University needs to
develop new kinds of suicide prevention
programs to attract students who no
longer live in residence halls. "At one
level, the system has failed when an at-
tempt is made," Morrow said.
A subcommittee of the Academic
Services Board called PEACE
(Psychiatric Emergency Assistance
and Coordination Effort) was formed
last year to make students aware of the
counseling resources available. The
committee printed a bright yellow
poster telling students how to help
friends who may be suicidal and where
to go for help.
A PEACE-initiated study on con-
ditions leading to stress should be
finished some time in March.
Counselor Morson said family
problems, financial wtpes, broken love
relationships, living situations, and
academic pressures are major sources
of stress for students.
Parents' high expectations,
especially if they're footing the tuition
bills, can add to the pressures of
student life.
"THERE'S AN awful lot of com-
petition here," Morson said. "It's a
given that there's a stressful environ-
ment. But there's something really
wrong when you start equating yourself
with the grade on a test," he said. The
competition out in the work force has
made students place more importance
on grades, he added. "Giving yourself
permission to be stressed is half the
battle," Morson said.
Disseminating information on suicide
prevention and stress is only one
problem the University faces. Some
have said the University needs a more
efficient method of recording suicide
The PEACE subcommittee intended
to develop a system to collect data on
the number of suicide attempts on
campus when it was formed last year.
"WE HAVEN'T found a way yet,"
said Korn. "Clearly the University
needs this kind of information. We need
to know if the resources available are

is another dilemma. "There's no
general University policy" on calling
parents, because students are adults,
Hughes said, but "it depends on the in-
dividual situation" whether parents are
Counselors say it is best to try to en-
courage the student to call parents
Beauvais said that if the RA, RD, the
building director, and counselors in-
.volved feel they know the student's
family situation and that calling the
parents would help the student, they
would discuss it and call-with the
student's knowledge.
However, "sometimes, if the staff
has worked well with the student, they
may have an indication that the parents
are a part of the problem," Beauvais
Gauthier said because parents may_
be a part of the student's problem, the
University should not develop a policy
that requires that parents be contacted
in every case. The option should remain
flexible in order to better fit the
student's needs, she said.
ALTHOUGH demand for counseling
has increased, Counseling Services is
short one counselor this year because of
budget cutbacks. 76-GUIDE was also
forced to cut back its 24 hour a day ser-
vice to 5p.m. until 10 a.m.

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10 p.m.

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adequate enough to cope."
The housing office has tried to com-
pile data on suicide attempts this year,
Hughes said.
"There is no form that has to be filled
out. But since housing and Counseling
Services are trying to compile data, I
make a memo out and send it to a per-
son in housing, with no name on it,"
said Stockwell Building Director Ruth
Addis. "I collect the information from
the RA and other staff involved."
REPORTS TO the housing office on
suicide attempts are "not always done
in written fashion," said Couzens
Building Director Mandy Bratton.
Suicide attempts are reported to
campus and housing security only when
immediate medical attention is needed.
Campus security files show nine
suicide attempts for the fall of this
year. There were a total of 14 reported
to campus security since January 1981,
compared to five reported during 1980.
University Safety Director Walter
Stevens said the dramatic increase in
attempts reported to campus security
,could be due, in part, to better reporting
practices on the part of residence- hall
GREYSON, from 'U' hospital, said
the University may be training its
residence hall staff better since more
staff members are bringing students to
psychiatric emergency for treatment.
"In the past, the University hushed it
up or the student was sent home. It was
rare for a student who attempted to
come to our hospital," Greyson said.
"The students we did see were rarely
brought in by dorm staff."
Many of the suicide attempts this fall
have occurred in the Hill Area residen-
ce halls, according to University of-
GREYSON SAID the concentration of
Oh, Those Holiday
Don't throw them away.
I'll Pay $25
if used in publication
(names withheld)
Send letters to:
2230 Ocean St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
unused letters returned with self-
adesdstamped envelope. I

attempts in that area may be a result of
the "contagion effect."
Korn explained the contagion effect:
"If several attempts occur within a cir-
cumscribed area, and there begins to
be so much talk, in some way it may
precipitate another attempt. What the
psychological processes are exactly, I
don't know."
OTHER universities with com-
parable student populations report
similar numbers of suicide attempts.
The University of Wisconsin has about
40 to 50 suicide attempts per academic
year. The University of Illinois repor-
ted 21 attempts since last January.
A public university with a 30,000-plus
population faces some special problems
in dealing with suicidal students.
A dorm resident who is suicidal but
refuses any counseling, medical treat-
ment or follow-up counseling after an
attempt poses a dilemma for the
University, because of students' legal
rights as adults.
"People coerced into seeking
(psychiatric) help don't benefit," Korn
said. "There's a delicate balance bet-
ween respecting students' rights as in-
dividuals and getting them to coun-
HILL AREA Director Kathy
Beauvais said, "A student can attempt
suicide and refuse medical care and we
can't force it. What's so frustrating is
our inability to force the student to act
in his own best interest."
Whether the University should call
parents when an attempt is made or not

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