Suicide Prevention Month: How Fargo is Raising Awareness

Cassy Tweed | Graphic Courtesy

During these difficult times, the community is coming together

In response to the pandemic, many institutions across the nation have implemented extensive new procedures such as mask mandates and physical distancing to stifle the coronavirus and protect the health of citizens. Still, a large portion of our population is battling another silent killer- mental illness. This Suicide Prevention Month, the state of North Dakota is committed to providing emotional support services for those who are struggling during this time. 

At North Dakota State University, both online and on-campus students can participate in mental health awareness programs. The Green Bandana Project, brought to NDSU’s campus by leaders Halie Van Vleet and Jenna Saatoff, seeks to “create a visual support system around campus for anyone struggling with anxiety or depression,” according to the Green Bandana Project website.

According to NDSU Residence Life, a green bandana is attached to a student’s backpack when they have pledged to be a safe individual to approach for mental health-related issues. 

Halie Van Vleet detailed how students can be a part of the project this semester. “The Green Bandana Project is offering both in-person and online training sessions to work with Covid-19 regulations,” Van Vleet said while also mentioning that the sign-up forms can be found on the NDSU Green Bandana Project website: 

Also, on Sept. 20, the ‘Out of the Darkness’ suicide walk will be streamed from 2-4 p.m. All students and members of the community are welcome to participate in the virtual event.

In addition to community activities, NDSU students will also have access to a variety of personalized counseling services this fall. According to William Burns, the Counseling Center Director, NDSU has taken a telehealth approach to counseling, in which students can schedule a virtual appointment with a mental health professional. 

According to Burns, the telehealth approach to counseling utilizes Microsoft Teams. Currently, only students from North Dakota and Minnesota can schedule a virtual appointment with a professional, but staff are working to expand these services to NDSU students across the nation as well.

An alternate option is for students to take the stress and depression inventory, an anonymous self-assessment form that students can fill out and email back to their counselors for results. “This is meant to help students gauge their own stress levels so that a counselor can strategically map out a support plan,” Burns said.  

Burns also mentioned that in order to help raise awareness for Suicide Prevention month, NDSU is hosting the NDSU Cares Event on Thursday, Sept. 24. Students can call Community Counseling Services who will then provide them with a Zoom link for access.

In a recent press release, Sheriff Jesse Jahner of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office announced a new partnership with Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota. Together, they have launched a Mental Health Awareness Campaign that is designed to, “Raise awareness for those we serve, acknowledging that everyone’s mental health matters,” Jahner said in a press release. The campaign is said to be running through the end of the year.  

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