As finals week approaches at St. John’s University, the stress levels could not be any higher for students. Students pack the libraries all night, and while some students can handle the stress, others seem to struggle.

Ian Rumsey, a junior here at St. John’s, seems to agree.

“Finals week is beyond stressful, and I can understand how some kids can break under pressure, especially while dealing with their own problems.”

The stresses of having finals sometimes can be the last straw, as many people deal with personal issues throughout the year on top of the rigorous academic workload of college. All it takes is for someone to snap, and this is where the idea of suicide creeps in.

Did you know that 1 in 10 students might have suicidal thoughts in any given day?

According to the New York Times, the suicide rate amongst 15 to 24 year olds has increased since 2007, from 9.6 death

s per 100,000 to 11.1 in 2013. There are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses each year, and that adds up to 2-3 deaths per day.

While these numbers are most definitely shocking, universities around the country have undergone changes in order to decrease these numbers, including St. John’s University.

While official numbers cannot be released by the school, St. John’s University continues to improve its efforts on the matter, specifically, Ruth Derosa, the associate director of wellness education and prevention.

Three years ago, St. John’s implemented the SJUOK program, as a result of a federal grant to universities.

It is a suicide prevention project in order to assist those who are suicidal, while increasing awareness of suicide and its signs.

Along with the counseling center, and the help of public safety, St. John’s seems to be taking strides to address this enormous problem in America.

Kids each day struggle with stresses of life and the idea of suicide slowly creeps into the back of their minds in order to end their pain and suffering. But because of people like Ruth, lives are being saved each and every day.

“The SJUOK campaign educates students of the resources they have here and helps them to take the necessary steps to r

each out, that’s the goal,” Derosa said.

She continued to mention how the idea is to train current students to recognize the warning signs, so they can help their fellow peers.

“We train students with the campus connect suicide prevention program, and have provided training for a few hundred students.”

Despite this program being new, almost 300 students have been trained through campus connect, and there are trainings held five times a year.

“Members from the counseling center train students on how to have conversations with their friends thinking about suicide and how to help them, and overall I think students are more aware about the issues of suicide and mental health because of this program,” Derosa said.

Although Public Safety declined to comment on the matter, they are considered the first line of defense, and students in the program know this.


Photo By St. John’s University

According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, this project will “increase awareness of suicide, its signs, and symptoms, and promote help by seeking behaviors by establishing a critical mass of trained gatekeepers.”

Confidentiality is always emphasized when it comes to serious matters such as suicide, but Derosa believes the program is helping to increase awareness.

Each year over 250 students and 150 faculty and staff are trained, and not only does this fortify the St. John’s community as a whole, but it also provides a big helping hand to those in need.

More students are beginning to become aware of SJUOK, and this includes junior Nicholas Scott.

“Personally, I’ve heard about this program and I think it’s a smart idea, as students are more comfortable speaking about their issues to friends over others. Honestly, I would consider signing up for next semester.”

The marketing seems to be improving, as students can access SJUOK online and sign up through the website when the go on to their MYSJU.

Joseph DiFonzo, a student at St. John’s, is one of the many students who has seen the SJUOK program on the school website.

“I’ve seen it before when I logged in, and even though I am not part of it, I think it can definitely be a big help to the suicide problem in America.”

Many alumni also believe this new program is a big stepping stride for the University, including Alex McCarty, a former graduate of St. Johns class of 2013.

“Back when I went to St. John’s, they never had any program for outreach, and I think that training students is a smart idea. Developing new ways to help those in need never hurts.”

Change seems to be on the horizon for many schools, and this includes St. John’s. The resources are in abundance for students, from Public Safety, to the Counseling Center, and last but not least, SJUOK.

The program seems to be making a big impact around the St. John’s community, and Derosa reiterated how it will be “institutionalized and in the wellness curriculum.”

Registering is simple, as under the Health and Wellness tab on MYSJU, students can click on SJUOK and register their name and X-number to sign up for campus connect training.

St. John’s University seems to be very well prepared for the issue of suicide amongst colleges, and only time will truly tell of the success of this interactive program.

There are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses each year, and a survey of college counseling centers found that more than half their clients have severe psychological problems, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college-age students, and for this reason, St. John’s made this their utmost priority in developing SJUOK. A life can be saved with some help, and at St. John’s University, that help is available.

Students must know that they are not alone, and with increased training, the hope is that lives can be saved. If for any reason, a student feels depressed and or suicidal, they can always reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.

Remember, you are not alone.