On Sept. 9, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville held a suicide prevention walk. The walk consisted of tour guides taking students around campus and stopping at every wellness sign that has been placed over the years. These signs included steps on breathing and relaxing, yoga, and compartmentalization. Olivia Schweiger, a member of the campus organization Pioneers Educating & Empowering Responsible Students volunteered when PEERS asked its members to staff these walks.
When asked about the turnout, Schweiger commented, “There was less publicity than what was desired, but because of the assignment [in psychology classes] to attend the event, there was a noticeable turnout.”
When asked whether the extra credit assignments contributed to attendance, Schweiger comments, “In that sense, yeah. I think, especially because the Psychology Department is here and was telling their students to come was nice, but I think reaching out to other groups on campus would’ve been great too.”
Schweiger adds, “Mental health doesn’t just affect the Psychology Department. Bringing awareness out that way would’ve been good, too!”
While walking along with Schweiger and the other tour guides, some of the other participants were exchanging ideas on how to relax, work with what has happened or how one feels, and what to do when they feel themselves slipping back into those feelings. Students may not have realized that campus resources has placed signs about suicide prevention and emotional processing. Two years ago, UW-Platteville decided to place these signs along the trails to Bridgeway, the Rountree Branch Trail and scattered across campus. It is heart-warming to see how much the university cares for its students.
After the event, I was able to speak with Jason Artz, a counselor at the university. Artz mentioned something exceedingly important. “When our office tries to put on campus wide events, one of our biggest focuses or hopes is to keep awareness around campus — letting people know, in terms of mental health, that we all have it. It impacts us all differently and even prior to the pandemic, it was something that had increasing concern.”
Artz is an active counselor on campus. Hosting events is one of the ways that counselors can support students and faculty members. When asked whether there will be a similar event in the spring, Artz replies, “That’s a good question. As of right now, we haven’t sat down and talked about it. We haven’t quite looked at what we are doing in the future. For Suicide Prevention Month, it’s been at least five or six years that we have been trying to put together events and resources for the week and month that we want to continually do.” By continuing these events, Counseling Services and campus resources can spread awareness and create a community of students who are actively trying to help and educate in prevention and promote a safe environment. “We know that not all students are going to seek us out in our office, so we like to figure out ways to engage with campus and again, create that culture of support and knowing what resources are out there.”
UW-Platteville Counseling Services can be reached at: (608)-342-1865, [email protected] or uwplatt.edu/department/counseling-services during these hours: Monday & Friday 8:00am-4:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 8:00am-8:00pm. In 220 Royce Hall, Platteville, WI, 53818. The suicide prevention 24/7 phone number is 1-800-273-8255.