September dedicated to suicide prevention month

 Junior Katie Rohr lost her boyfriend of eight years to suicide about three and a half years ago.

During grief counseling, she noticed that many people complained about a lack of resources about suicide prevention.

“In that moment I realized I am the person to [help] because these people are going through a lot, and I have the power to help,” Rohr said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data lists suicide as the second leading cause of death among adults aged 15 to 24, and the prevalence of suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts is significantly higher among ages 18 to 29.

Both these statistics are within the age range of the average college student.

September is suicide prevention month, and suicide prevention day is Sept. 10. According to the EveryDayMatters Foundation, suicide prevention month is about raising awareness that suicide is preventable, improving education about suicide, spreading information to increase awareness and decreasing stigmatization.

 Starting in 2012, Rohr has organized three “Out of the Darkness” walks in Wichita and participation grew from 75 in the first walk to 450 in last year’s walk. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) uses the walks to raise money in order to raise awareness of suicide and decrease the national suicide rate.

Recently, Rohr began organizing suicide walks at WSU because she thinks it is important for college students to be aware about suicide and depression.

“Around finals it’s very stressful, especially for those who are on scholarship,” said Andrea Humphreys, a licensed clinical social worker at the Via Christi Behavioral Health Center. “If grades are slipping that is usually an indication that something is happening. If college students can help see what is going on with their friends, then that can definitely help them.”

Senior Michael Burr said suicide is an important issue to him. A lot of his friends in high school went through depression and low points in their lives until they went to therapy and met together in groups.

“We should talk about [suicide] more,” Burr said.

Senior Michelle Robbins’ brother went through a similar problem. Her brother struggled with suicidal thoughts because of a transition from middle school to high school and a new stepfather, Robbins said. Eventually, he spoke with her mom about the issue.

Robbins said she would tell someone with suicidal thoughts the bad feelings are temporary, but “suicide is very final — there is no way to come back from that.”

In order to help prevent the finality of suicide, Rohr is organizing another walk on Oct. 3. Information for joining the Wichita walk and services provided by AFSP can be found on

“We’re working to get rid of the stigma,” Rohr said. “The reason I do this stuff is to make sure people know that it’s OK to reach out. When I lost my loved one I was very alone, and I worked very, very, very hard to make sure no one else has to go through that.”