During the new student orientation, 6,000 incoming CSUN students were handed out information and resources on the Ray of Hope Project, an initiative created by CSUN’s Suicide and Prevention Awareness Program, which promotes safety on campus.
The Ray of Hope Project informs students how to find help should they be in a crisis situation and, if necessary, empowers a student’s peers to seek help on their behalf.
“The program also emphasizes to students that help is available at any given time,” said Judy DeBonis, head organizer of CSUN’s Suicide Prevention and Awareness Program.
Since 2012, funding for the Ray of Hope Project has been provided by the Garrett Lee Smith Campus Grant, which focuses on the stigma of suicide and offers suicide attempt first-aid trainings to the CSUN community.
The Ray of Hope Project offers a pocket-size reference card dubbed “Getting Help, Know the #’s.” It lists telephone numbers for CSUN Police, Counseling Services, Helpline, and the Suicide Prevention Hotline, among others.
Ray of Hope encourages peers to be ready and get involved if a student is in distress.
According to the project, students are more likely to confide in their peers, significant others, roommates, or friends, when they are in distress or experiencing suicidal thoughts.
The numbers listed on the postcard can be used by the person in distress, or friends can use the numbers to request help on the person’s behalf.
“Students can also peel the sticker and attach it to the back of their CSUN identification card in case of emergencies” said DeBonis.
The postcard also encourages students to take a pledge to talk openly about suicide. This makes it easier to ask about and use the resources available.
“Not many students know about Ray of Hope and that there are resources available if a student is in distress,” said Stacey Bellow, a new student orientation leader responsible for the tabling effort by Ray of Hope. “It’s great that the program has students taking a pledge to be more open about suicide.”
DeBonis hopes students will understand that suicide should be talked about openly in the community and not looked down upon or ignored.
Check out the rest of The Sundial’s Mental Health Issue in a special section here.