MOREHEAD – More than 650 people die by suicide in Kentucky every year. Morehead State University at Prestonsburg hosted events Wednesday, Dec. 9, to bring heightened awareness to this major public health issue and prevent suicide deaths.
The focal event was a continuing professional education training covering suicide assessment, treatment and management hosted by MSU’s Social Work Program. The six-hour program allowed more than 40 mental health professionals in the region to meet new state continuing education requirements for suicide training.
In addition, MSU Prestonsburg social work students Billie Stumbo and Mareeka Collet and social work professor Deirdra Robinson-Phipps joined with Counseling and Health Services staff to provide suicide prevention programming for the MSU Prestonsburg and Big Sandy Community and Technical College campus communities.
An event titled “Use Social Media to Sow Seeds of Hope” provided students, staff and faculty with information about how to effectively respond to social media posts that suggest suicidal distress, “No one would miss me if I wasn’t around anymore” or “I don’t want to be here anymore.” In an interactive portion of the event, participants were encouraged to share basic tips they learned (direct message the person who made the post rather than commenting publicly and ask open-ended questions “How can I best support you right now?”) on their own social media profiles.
Mental health professionals attending the suicide training and campus community members participating in the social media suicide prevention event were encouraged to sign a suicide prevention pledge banner. Importantly, the pledge stated that they would NOT be afraid to ask a person directly if he or she is thinking about suicide, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” The banner will be put on display in the front lobby of the MSU Prestonsburg academic building.
No matter what you are going through hurting yourself is never the answer. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a source for anyone struggling with difficult emotions. The call is free and confidential, so don’t hesitate to contact 1-800-273-TALK FREE (8255).
Additional information on the social work program is available by calling Robinson-Phipps at 606-889-4721.