Editor’s Note: The Murray State News changed the name of the man involved, per his request.
“I was a little 5-foot, 200-pound freshman–just a little round thing–in high school,” said Cole, senior from Scottsville, Kentucky.
Cole said he got picked on often in high school — the classic seniors picking on freshmen — and he felt like he didn’t have many friends.
“What started as harmless fun became really harmful and really hurt me,” he said.
He said one day the bullying went too far.
“In the football locker room, one day, I got put in a locker,” he said. “I was in there for six hours and I had to catch one of the coaches coming out or I would have been there overnight.”
Cole said he went home that night feeling belittled, worthless and alone.
“I chose the knife,” he said. “I started to press it against my neck and I got a call from a friend — like, as I was doing it — at like, 12:30 at night.”
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month. The goal is to promote resources and awareness around the issues of suicide prevention, how to help others who may be suicidal and how to talk about suicide without increasing risk of harm, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15 – 24, according to 2013 data from the American Association of Suicidology.
For every suicide, there are 25 attempts, and 42,773 Americans die by suicide each year, according to American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
FINDING HEALING, FINDING HOPE
“Suicide attempts are a cry for help, a cry for a friend,” NAME said.
He said she called out of nowhere, despite having a fallout days before.
“I don’t even know why I answered, but I answered,” he said. “I was still angry, still hurt, but I’m not really sure why I stopped and why I didn’t do it.”
Cole said his friend said she felt like she needed to talk to him at that moment. He told her he was going to commit suicide and she talked him down from the attempt.
“Call it what you want, but I call it God,” he said. “God gave me a friend when I most needed it.”
He said his friend told his parents about his suicide attempt. He said he was very upset with her for telling them, but it was part of his healing process.
“It takes one friend being completely bold, looking past the right here, right now, to show someone you care about them, even if it hurts them right now,” he said.
According to AFSP, being present for someone showing signs of depression or who has attempted suicide is crucial because many suicide attempts stem from feeling alone. Additionally, encouraging the loved one to talk to a counselor, engage in self-care and live a balanced lifestyle of eating healthy, exercising and getting adequate sleep is an important way to help.
“One of the biggest and most important things a friend can do is listen, and be there, and be supportive,” said Angie Trzepacz, director of the University Counseling Center. “Sometimes they don’t want any help they just want someone to pay attention.”
The University Counseling Center provides services such as individual therapy, couples therapy, group therapy and family therapy for Murray State–free of charge. Trzepacz said the most common issues she sees on campus are generally anxiety and depression that stem from pressure to succeed in college and relational breakups.
“The most effective thing you can do for a friend is refer them to professional help,” Trzepacz said.
“What I have told myself when I get to those low points is that ‘it gets better, it’s not going to be that terrible forever,’” he said
He said the healing process takes time, but there is hope.
He said he began to love 3:45 p.m., when he came home from school and was able to see the sun on the field. He said it gave him hope that things would get better.
Cole said he felt an “overwhelming call” to talk about bullying at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) meeting at his school one Wednesday morning.
“It wasn’t comfortable, but I was open and transparent, and soon after that, I felt like there was a weight lifted off my shoulders, and I felt like I had a happiness and peace and I could see a vast contrast between my depressed state and being truly happy,” he said.