The Parkland College Blog

Suicide Loss Survivor: What I've Learned

One survivor shares about living with the anguish and finding help

I’ve learned a few things about suicide and grief since my brother’s death by suicide six years ago, and then after my wife’s closest friend died by suicide two years later.

Losing my brother, Mo, and then Amy, who was also my friend, to suicide, rocked my world and permanently changed me. These were people close to me, whom I’d known and loved for years. How was it that I didn’t see Mo’s despair, or the depths of Amy’s depression? What did I miss? Even though the circumstances surrounding their deaths were quite different, the anguish I experienced from not being able to somehow prevent them from dying was the same. Over and over, I kept thinking that each of their deaths was preventable, and so very unnecessary.

I’ve learned that living with this anguish, on top of the grief, is part of the experience of surviving a loss by suicide. And as with grief, the anguish eases over time, but will re-emerge unexpectedly as though no time has passed and no lessons have been learned.

I’ve learned that suicide still carries a stigma. People will criticize your loved one for being “selfish” or “cowardly” out of bias or ignorance about the causes of suicide. It’s painful to hear these comments, and they make me feel protective of my brother and my friend, even when I have felt intense anger toward them for leaving behind family and friends whose grief will last a lifetime.

I’ve learned that suicide is more common than I had realized. Each time I hear of someone’s death by suicide, I’m particularly concerned for those around him or her who are depressed or who are going through a difficult time because of the “contagion effect.” In this dynamic, suicide becomes a viable option to someone struggling emotionally who had not previously considered taking his or her life.

And, finally, I’ve learned that I am not alone. Being with other survivors of suicide loss has given me strength when I have needed it, has helped me to push through the anguish, and has given me the opportunity to pass on ways in which I have learned to cope and to heal.

Each year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) offers a program for people who have been impacted by suicide to find comfort, gain insight, and share stories of healing and hope. This program, called the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day (ISOSLD), will be held on Saturday, November 23 from 8:15 to noon at Parkland College in Room U140.

To register, go to afsp.org/SurvivorDay. This program is free and open to the public (though not recommended for children under 18). For more information, contact: Dennis Cockrum at dcockrum@parkland.edu or 217/353-2254 or Katie Schacht at kschacht@parkland.edu or 217/373-3824.

Additional information about ISOSLD, suicide prevention, and educational resources can be found at afsp.org.

You can find information on mental health services and treatment in the Champaign County area on the Family Service website, www.famservvcc.org; at www.findhelp211.org; or by calling 211.

Parkland College students have free, confidential counseling services available to them in the Counseling Services office. Please contact Dennis or Katie at the numbers above.

 

[Marilyn Ryan is a retired counselor from Parkland College.]

National Distance Learning Week: Online Classes, Anyone?

Top reasons you should take an online class; celebrate NDLW Nov. 4–8!

Usually, when you see this headline, you expect to see reasons like "it's more convenient" or "lower costs" or "a more comfortable learning environment." And while all of these are true, here are three other reasons that you should take an online course.

1.  Technology education: "Most, if not all students will be working with “others" sometime in their future careers. To be successful, the use of technology is very important. Taking online courses now at Parkland College will help prepare you to communicate with others using today’s technology, including virtual meetings and collaborating with emails and other social media devices. I highly recommend all my students take at least one online class before you leave Parkland." 

                                                               — Mark Kesler, Parkland business and management instructor.

2.  Cultural diversity. Online courses can be taken by students anywhere in the world. By enrolling in an online course, you get the chance to meet students from other countries. Students benefit mutually from learning about each others' cultures as well as educational and life experiences. Often, you can get a "study abroad" experience without leaving the comfort of your own home.

3.  Career Skill-building. Taking an online class takes discipline, punctuality, and self-motivation; all excellent skills to have in the workforce. Online courses create a solid foundation as you prepare for your next step, whether it's transferring to a four-year institution or starting your career.

So, while online courses are recommended for their quality instruction, transferability, and affordability; they offer so much more than just that for students. Online courses can provide a broad experience that can shape the future of your employment and life goals.

What are you waiting for?  Go ahead...sign up for an online class today! 

***National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) is Nov. 4–8! Three cheers for online learning!***

_________________________

[Lori Wendt is a learning management system specialist for Professional Development and Instructional Technology at Parkland College.]

 

Parkland Raises Funds for Suicide Prevention

College team top fundraiser for community walk; September is Suicide Prevention Month

Parkland College showed strong support for the Champaign-Urbana Out of Darkness Community Walk, held Sept. 8 at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana. This event, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, takes place during Suicide Prevention Month. 

We had a great day for the Sunday walk. It felt like a celebration; they even had a DJ. A lot of people showed up to lend their support and to walk with us. Our team was made up of Parkland employees, students, family, and friends. We walked in honor of friends and family who have died by suicide.

Our 14-member Parkland Friends Team was the top fundraiser among the 43 teams that attended! So far this year, we have raised $3,234. I was also honored to be our team's captain and to be named the event's top individual fundraiser out of 241, with $1,185 raised. 

Let's all do our part to help reduce the risk of suicide, not just during the month of September, but year-round. To make a donation to the C-U Out of Darkness Community Walk, please visit the donor page.

 

[Dennis Cockrum, Parkland College counselor]

Degree Completion Day

Learn how to get to the end of your college journey

Working toward your Parkland College degree or certificate? Do your parents have credits from Parkland but never completed a degree? You ALL could join us for Degree Completion Day, Wednesday Oct. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the U building and find out what's needed to finish.

Degree Completion Day might be an easy way to make your schedule for the rest of your college journey through student planning. Whether you're "so close" to your certificate or new to campus, this event is for you:

  • Counseling Services advisors will be available to check your progress.
  • Financial Aid will be there to let you know if you might qualify for a Pell Grant.
  • Petition to Graduate applications will be available, if you'll earn your degree this fall.
  • Student Life will be on hand with information about commencement.
  • Refreshments, fun activities, and WPCD-FM live streaming will be part of the fun!

Come on over to the Student Union and learn about the other end of registration. See you there!

 

[Dennis Kaczor, Counseling Services]

 

Illinois Regional College Fair, Sept. 18

High school, transfer students can meet with 70+ US educational institutions

Area students and their parents will have a unique opportunity to explore a wide variety of higher education options at the 2019 Illinois Regional College Fair, Wednesday, September 18, 6–8 p.m. at Parkland College's Donald C. Dodds, Jr. Athletic Center.  

The event is free and open to the public.
 
Designed for high school students and community college transfer students; the ICRF introduces students and their parents to representatives from more than 70 educational institutions from across the country. Participants will receive important information about education planning, visit displays from various colleges and universities, and be able to speak one-on-one with representatives from many institutions. In addition, they will have an opportunity to discuss financial aid and career choices.
 
The Illinois Regional College Fair is sponsored by the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling, along with Parkland College. For more information, students may contact their high school guidance counselors, view www.parkland.edu/regionalCollegeFair or call 217/353-2636.

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