Salt Lake Community College lies directly in the middle of a geographical region known as the “suicide belt,” which is composed of several western states including Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada.
Over a four year period, Utah citizens took their own lives in numbers that averaged to be one per day, according to Utah’s Indicator Based Information System indicator report. The same report showed that in 2010, nearly 2,500 Utahns were admitted to emergency rooms because they attempted suicide.
The 2013 National College Health Assessment of SLCC found that 12 percent of students had considered suicide and that the leading cause of academic decline was stress, anxiety and depression.
“College is a stressful time of life. A lot of things are happening: career decisions, relationship problems, money issues, and occasionally, we even see students that are homeless and just struggling to survive,” says Dr. Scott Kadera, manager of Counseling Services at SLCC.
The Health and Wellness center at SLCC provides students with on campus access to mental health care and suicide prevention.
Counseling services are available for students who are enrolled in the current semester with the goal of helping students succeed in their academic careers and personal lives.
The first session is free and subsequent ones cost $10.
Kadera estimates that nearly 400 students received counseling last year, but he says that the services are underutilized and that many students are unaware that help is available.
The counseling staff is composed of a psychologist, licensed clinical social workers and social service practicum students from the University of Utah.
They’re trained to help students with issues that include depression, anxiety, relationship problems and anything else that the student finds troubling.
“A common comment I hear is, ‘I just needed to vent. It helps to get things off my chest.’ People find counseling helpful, especially if they don’t have good social support. It’s someone to talk to who can listen,” says Kadera.
Treatment for students in need is determined on a case by case basis. Kadera says that clients often want to reduce symptoms, resolve stressful situations and learn psychological skills that include being more assertive, managing stress and developing confidence.
Students who don’t have the funds for individual counseling sessions will have the option to participate in group therapy that begins in October.