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Suicide prevention training at CSULB aims to decrease the amount of suicides

QPR is open to all students, faculty and staff.

Cris Rivera, Staff Writer

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Last year, Cal State Long Beach student Jerry Vu took his own life. His body was found at Parking Structure 1. He was a 19-year-old business student and a choreographer at the time of his death.

An estimated 1,100 students die each year to suicide. On-Campus Emergency Assistance Network, otherwise known as Project OCEAN, is looking to decrease those numbers.

In an attempt to raise awareness about suicide prevention, project directors hope that Question Persuade Refer training will help save lives. The training includes identification of warning signs of suicide risk and prevention efforts for the people who need help. Last Thursday, the final session of the semester was held at the University Student Union.

Alex Villaneda, a project administrative assistant, has stepped in to assist with training throughout this semester as there is currently no program coordinator.

“We know since it is a commuter campus, not all students want to or can go  [to Counseling and Psychological Services because] they don’t have time. So that’s where QPR comes in,” Villaneda said. “We train students to recognize those signs.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the second most common cause of death among college students.

Similar to the frequency of CPR training in Seattle, Villaneda hopes that Long Beach can lead the nation in suicide prevention.

“Seattle is the safest place to have a heart attack because almost everyone there is CPR trained,” Villaneda said. “That is what our goal is in Long Beach; to get as many people QPR trained so if there is someone struggling, there is someone there who can spot it and help them.”

One goal of the program is to dispel the biggest myth about suicide, which is that by simply talking or asking about suicide will push someone to take their own life.

Danielle Hall, a communication major in her senior year, participated in a recent session and felt that the training would become useful in both her personal and professional life.

“I thought even bringing it up, people would get upset with me,” Hall said. “I learned it was OK to talk about it. I eventually want to be a counselor, I want to work at community colleges so I thought as a counselor there might be some students that may be showing these signs.”

Coleen Villegas, another participant in the program, said she now feels more comfortable talking about suicide.

“I didn’t know it was the most preventable death,” Villegas said. “I knew that you had to ask but I didn’t know how to ask. They gave really straightforward advice you can follow when you talking to someone about suicide.”

Maria Diaz, a mental health peer educator in the program, believes in the power of suicide prevention training.

“I’ve always been big on advocating for mental health,” Diaz said. “It would be very cool if we had a mental health requirement [on campus] because this is something really big that impacts college students.”

Diaz encourages students to remember that while school work in definitely important, nothing should come before your own mental health.

“That’s why we really advocate for self-love, because once you’re a college student you put yourself aside and then your priority becomes school but it should be the other way,” Diaz said. “You should put yourself first then school.”

For those who wish to sign up for a training session, visit csulb.edu/ocean. And for those struggling with depression or suicide call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255


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