TU starts signage initiative due to rise in mental health concerns

By Danielle Stein, contributing writer

Towson University recently installed resource signs in areas considered high-risk to individuals struggling with mental health in a crisis prevention effort. 

The signs say “Need Help? You are not alone!”. They list the contact information for the university Counseling Center and the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Signs were installed on the top floor of all university parking garages, stairwells and the campus bridge over Osler Drive.

The locations were assessed as high-risk areas, stemming from understanding the challenges students may be facing. 

Counseling Center Director Mollie Herman, who helped start the signage project, highlighted the prevalence of suicidal thoughts among students, especially in locations like parking garages, where these risks may become more prevalent. 

“We wanted to minimize that risk and provide a visible reminder of support and resources,” Herman said. 

The university has a history of student mental health challenges. In March a TU student was found unresponsive near the West Village Parking Garage, The Towerlight reported

After some discussion with students Herman and Coordinator of Anxiety and Depression Services Amber Walser said they heard from multiple students that parking garages are perceived as high-risk locations for potential crises, which put emphasis on the need for TU to prioritize mental health awareness and prevention strategies.

“Suicide prevention has always been a top priority of the counseling center,” Herman said. “We are always thinking about ways to be able to reach students, both who come in to see us for help, but also students who maybe are struggling on their own and for various reasons.”

Walser detailed the partnership efforts that aided the signage initiative. This included funding from the TU Foundation Grant and the Keith T. Perrymore Endowment, a family of a Towson University student who died by suicide. 

Walser said the university has strategically allocated funds from the Perrymore endowment to multiple projects with the goal of supporting student well-being.

Many students pass by the signs throughout their day.

“I think this new initiative is a good idea and I noticed them soon after their installation,” junior Kirill Pankov said. “I hope they can do more in the future for preventive measures.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Suicide and Data Statistics shows a 37% increase in overall suicide rates from 2000 to 2018, and a 5% decrease to 2020. 

The Healthy Minds Study, which provides statistics on mental health in college student populations, found 14% of students had suicidal-ideation in the past year.

This national data mirrors Towson statistics, Assistant Director of Media Relations Jamie Abell confirmed in an email to The Towerlight.

Towson offers online training programs around mental health such as the online platform Kognito that educates students on crisis prevention skills. It also offers interactive lessons to inform students about suicide prevention techniques.

The counseling center has a wide range of services readily available to students. 

“We want everyone to know about our same-day services and 24/7 support,” Walser said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Reach the free, 24/7 Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741741.

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to the Perrymore Foundation as the “Perry Moore” Foundation and misspelled Amber Walser’s last name on some references. These have been corrected. The Towerlight regrets these errors.


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