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Students in Distress

Grief/Loss

College is a time of intense deadlines and goal-setting. Success generally requires ambition, focus and time management. A sudden loss may interrupt this routine by adding anxiety, feelings of loss of control or guilt about continuing to attend to requirements and responsibilities. NCCU students, staff and faculty are encouraged to take time to reflect and heal in their own way when there is a loss of a fellow Eagle, family member or friend. Often when a loved one dies, friends and loved ones question how to continue to live their lives and still keep the memories of the loved one with them. Students are frequently given the message that after a certain amount of time, the grieving process should be over.  However, grief is a normal human response to death, and it may come and go at varying times. For many, the loss of a colleague, friend, or family member may bring up a variety of questions and emotions that can be resolved only over time and with patience. 

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified seven typical stages of grief:

  • Shock/Denial: A first reaction may be to deny the loss or feel emotionally numb.
  • Questioning: Asking Why?  Why Now?  Why this person?  How? 
  • Anger:  Dealing with feelings of unfairness, anger at self for not preventing the loss, or anger at not receiving desired answers.
  • Guilt: Self-blame for something you did or did not do.  Guilt for surviving and continuing with daily tasks.
  • Loneliness: Experiencing the void of the loved one at work or in class.
  • Depression:  Feeling drained, sad, irritable or helpless/hopeless.
  • Fear: Feeling that safety or security is compromised.
  • Acceptance: Accepting the loss and learning how to look at your future with hope.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On Death and Dying, Macmillan, NY, 1969

Serious Mental Illness or Distress

In 2005, the American Psychiatric Association’s Presidential Task Force on College Student Mental Health identified the following facts:

  • College students in increasing numbers enter their freshman year already taking psychiatric medications.
  • More colleges report increases in severe psychopathology in students.
  • Stress brought about by grades and concerns about money contributes to depression and anxiety for college students.

Many psychiatric diagnoses develop during the late 20s and early 30s.  Sometimes the stress of college or a distressful experience may initiate the prevalence of a psychological disorder.  Only a trained mental health professional is qualified to make this determination.  Counselors in the Counseling Center are available for consultation or support of students who may exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Sudden change of personality
  • Odd behavior or speech
  • Physical ailments that are not related to a physical illness
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations
  • Delusional thinking or actions
  • Any abnormal behavior

Suicide

Every 15 minutes someone in the United States dies from suicide.  Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.  Every faculty, staff and student member of the NCCU community should take suicidal threats, statements or behavior seriously.

Warning Signs:

  • Threatening or talking to others about hurting or killing oneself
  • Accessing firearms, pills, or other means to kill oneself
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities
  • Feeling trapped, as if there is no way out of a bad situation
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family or society
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep (or sleeping excessively)
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life

What you can do: 

A — Acknowledge the person’s feelings and take them seriously
C — Take initiative and voice your concern
T — Treatment: Get Professional help immediately

If someone you know is experiencing the above signs, seek help by contacting the National Suicide HelpLine: 1-800-273-TALK, the local police (911) or the University Police 530-6106. University counselors are available at the NCCU Counseling Center for walk-ins during normal business hours or through the University Police after hours.

For more information visit www.stopasuicide.org or www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

 
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North Carolina Central University
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