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September 05, 1985 - Image 46

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-09-05

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a0

Pag 86 - Te Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 5, 1985
PaueBigij des on campus remain low but steady

By DAVID GOODWIN
Suicide is up.
More American youths are killing
themselves in this decade than any
other in this century, and the college
q iuicidal thoughts; student is at great risk.
will or other 'final "The incident reports that I know of
probably say that we average about
tle; t2.5 suicides on the U of M campus per
losing or gaining year" said Evelyn Gauthier, clinical
psychologist for Personal Counseling
ap' wajor ehavioral Services. Gauthier added that this
figure does not include students who
ides or dropping kill themselves while on vacation or
students who attempt to commit
suicide.
rts of anger, or Although suicide is still a relatively
rare event on campus, emotions run
high when it is reported in the press,
so four years ago, the executive of-
ficers at the University adopted a
policy statement which states that the
University feels a responsibility
towards the mental health of students,
Ielflfaculty, and staff.
POSTERS WERE printed providing
. .764-9312 telephone numbers and agencies
76GU IDE where professional help could be
.7 4-.94- reached in suicidal and psychological
f9 -4747.emergencies.
.26 "I think it was a sign that the
485......president and the executive officers
- have gone beyond the response 'of
course we care, why do you have to
ask' to a clear statement of 'we are a
community and we have some in-

teractive responsibilities'," Gauthier
says.
What motivates a student to end his
or her own life is still as unknown as
the statistics. Gauthier believes that
although academic stress may trigger
suicidal behavior, it is not the
primary cause.
"I THINK THAT academic
pressure is a variable, but the inter-
vening and important variable is the
interpretation an individual makes of
success or failure," Gauthier says.
She believes it all hinges on a per-
son's sense of self-esteem and hope
about the future.
"The thing a college campus
presents is that when a person is so
tied into a certain kind of academic
achievement, status, or perfec-
tionism, or performance and if they
can't match it, it gets interpreted as
'my future is kind of hopeless, I'm
ashamed of myself, I've disappointed
people who care about me'," Gauthier
said.
BUT GAUTHIER is frustrated in
the efforts of Counseling Services to
prevent suicide. Accurate statistics
on campus suicides are not main-
tained, and suicide attempts often go
unreported.
"There really is an infinite amount
that one could do and we never feel
like we are doing as much as we'd like
to," Gauthier said.

In cooperation with other depar-
tments, personal counselors at Coun-
seling Services support educational
activities that inform people about
depression and suicide, as well as tell
the warning signs to look out for.
Counselors visit psychology classes
and train campus housing personnel
on how to deal with depression and
suicide.
THE AGENCY ALSO hopes that
troubled students, or someone who
knows of a student in trouble, will con-
tact a personal counselor. Students
can make an appointment or use the
walk-in service available every
weekday.
Gauthier said that any student may
be seen as an on-going client or
referred to another resource at the
University.
If a faculty member expresses con-
cern for the well-being of a student
and needs advice on what to do,
"What we don't do is say 'give me the
student's name and I'll call him.' We
figure out what people might do to
reach out to depressed and potentially
suicidal people," Gauthier said.
UNFORTUNATELY, SUICIDE is
still a fact of college life, and coun-
selors often must help other students
deal with the tragedy after the fact. It
would be a great help if accurate
statistics and records on suicidal
behavior among college students

were maintained, Gauthier said.
At present, this group is still lumped
under suicide statistics for youths
from 15 to 24 years old.
Counseling Services is presently
trying to organize cooperation bet-
ween the counseling services of the
Big Ten schools to try to understand
campus suicide better.
"ONE OF THE THINGS I hope
comes out of this effort is not only a
pooling of resources about preventive
programs, what works, 'what do you
guys do to keep track of things?', but
also some kind of data-based system
where we can record events, both at-
tempts as well as deaths, and then
pool our data among the Big Ten
schools," Gauthier said.
Psychologists have attributed many
factors to the rise of suicide among
today's youth. Some cite population
pressure as the cause, while others
believe the nuclear threat contributes
to suicidal despair. But the bottom
line in coming to terms with suicide is
an emotional issue.
"You can't talk about suicide
without yourself being truly affected
by it, and so it's our own urgency to
make sense of it and get control of it,"
Gauthier said.
"I think there is an understandable
urge to find out what makes people
suicidal and then we can change it and
stop it."

al

\I

4

NI

Daily Photo By OWEN LONGSHOT
Women march in the annual Take Back the Night march. PIRGIM helps sponsor the demonstration for the
power of sisterhood.
Support for PIRGIM wanes

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By STEVE HERZ
Student support for the Public Interest Research
Groups in Michigan (PIRGIM) has dwindled so much
over the past few years that many students don't even
know it exists.
The crux of the group's work, which is part of a nation-
wide organization of PIRG, is to address environmental
concerns.
PIRGIM is actively supportive of the Right to Know
Act, which requires employees to inform their employers
and the community of the potential harms of toxic waste.
THE RESEARCH groups also are involved in several
aspects of community life.
In the past decade, PIRGIM studied ways to improve
women's safety and has co-sponsored several "Take Back
the Night" marches. On this march, hundreds of women
walk without the accompaniment of men to demonstrate
their independence and the power of sisterhood.
PIRGIM is also at the root of a proposal to install
emergency telephones throughout the campus.
EVEN WITH its work around Ann Arbor and the
University community, PIRGIM was unable to maintain
enough student support to remain on the Student
Verification Form (SVF).
For the first time since 1971, students registering for
classes will not be able to mark off a spot on their SVFs
and allocate two dollars to PIRGIM.
The Regents voted 6-1 last February to remove PIRGIM
from the SVF. The group tried to abort the action by
gathering signatures on a petition drive, but only 11 per-
cent of the students signed the petition.

THE BYLAWS of an agreement between the
organization and the University in 1972 require that
PIRGIM maintain 50 percent of the student support to
remain on the SVF.
That number was lowered over the past few years, and
later the requirement was waived altogether by the
University.
But PIRGIM is continuing to serve the consumer
through donations. PIRGIM recently conducted a com-
prehensive survey of local banks and grocery stores, and
has done considerable work on researching textbook
prices at local book stores.
PIRGIM IS also concerned with tenant rights and set up
a grievance committee to serve renters in the community.
The group also opposed local utility rate hikes.
Other PIRGIM projects include efforts to register
student voters, reviewing area physicians and compiling
a directory on them, and fighting in 1983 for a $5 penalty
for minors between 18 and 21 years old who consume
alcohol.
Now that the Regents have pulled the plug on PIRGIM,
the group must come up with the support of 50 percent of
the students to be restored to the SVF. At the regents'
decision, PIRGIM's campus coordinator, Kristen Haas,
said she believed the group could get the necessary 50
percent support of the student body.
At this time it is unclear whether PIRGIM has gained
more student support.
Whether its name is on the SVF, PIRGIM will continue
to research community concerns.

i

Don't Let a Bad Break
Disrupt Your College Budget
Whether it's an intramural football injury or a surprise attack of appendicitis, an unantici-
pated sickness or accident can result in large medical bills. And if you're like most college
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That's why it's a good idea to help protect yourself against the medical expenses of an unex-
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