via University of Scranton Counseling Center Twitter page, @uofscc.

by Kelsey Wynn | Editor in Chief

SCRANTON – The University of Scranton Counseling Center is recognizing National Suicide Prevention Week through social media posts, Zoom support sessions and words of encouragement.

National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 6 to Sept. 12, is an annual week-long campaign throughout the United States with the goal of educating healthcare professionals and the general public on warning signs and suicide prevention. World Suicide Prevention Day has been observed globally on Sept. 10 since 2003.

According to KidsPeace, a community-based organization and charity serving the mental health needs of children, families and communities, risk indicators for suicide in young people can include but are not limited: to serious medical problems that may be life-threatening, history of family problems, low social interaction, lack of communication or perpetual feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.

Sherry Dougherty, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Scranton’s Counseling Center, said the isolated lifestyle the coronavirus has created has the potential to have a significant effect on individuals already feeling anxious or isolated due to struggles of daily life.

“We are now in a lifestyle where every recommendation we would normally be giving to those people is now not really an option… I think the uncertainty of not knowing when this whole pandemic will return us to a new normal and what that new normal will be significantly complicates how individuals dealing with mental health manage,” Dougherty said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:


Despite being unable to offer some of her more traditional solutions, such as getting more involved within the community, Dougherty said the Counseling Center is offering virtual drop-in groups for students in isolation or quarantine via Zoom three days a week.

“This virtual drop-in group… is a safe space to talk through your struggles and shared experiences, and to help each other find ways to take things one day at a time,” the flyer from the Counseling Center said.

The groups meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon, and students in isolation or quarantine can join using the Zoom Meeting ID: 972 1954 4294.

Dougherty said the Counseling Center is also offering three additional groups, which can be found on Royal Happenings. “Coping with Uncertainty during COVID” meets at 3 p.m. Thursdays and “Self-Care During a Socially Distanced Semester” is at 3 p.m. Wednesdays. “Who Thought My First Semester Would Look Like This?”, a discussion among first-year students regarding starting school in a pandemic and various first semester struggles, meets at 4 p.m. Tuesdays.

Students must call the Counseling Center at 570-941-7620 to receive the Meeting ID for these three sessions.

Kelly Lunger, Counseling Center administrative assistant, said she has been updating the Center’s social media, including Instagram and Twitter, throughout the week to recognize National Suicide Prevention Week. Posts this week have included a graphic with the expression, “I hope you know the world is better because you are in it,” and a post regarding the Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people under 25, according to the post.

via University of Scranton Counseling Center Twitter page, @uofscc.

Dougherty said that while business may not look usual, the Counseling Center is trying to operate business as usual to the best of their abilities.

“We are regularly open for business to provide support and mental health counseling to all students, and that’s as easy as calling our office. We always have someone in the office, but a lot of times if a student shows up here we do sessions virtually – so we give them a conference room while we’re in our office,” Dougherty said.

Junior counseling and human services major Valentina “Pooka” Janerico said mental health is a serious issue that everyone deals with differently, and as someone who studies counseling, she must be mindful and understanding that it may be more difficult for some people to open up than others. 

Janerico spoke from personal experience when she said dealing with mental illness by seeing a counselor via Zoom does not feel the same as face-to-face counseling, but it won’t last forever.

“If you are ever feeling anxious, depressed, suicidal or any other type of way, know you are not alone and seek your friends, family, a professional or a trusted adult for help. Covid may keep us isolated but we are all still in this together as a community and as a whole,” Janerico said.

Dougherty wished to remind students how monumental and life-changing this moment is in history, making self-compassion and self-patience a necessity in these abnormal times.

“Make your own self-care a priority. Everything else really centers around whether you’re taking care of yourself during this challenging time. When you’re living it you do what you believe is routine and normal, and I think these times call for being willing to step out of your comfort zone and say, ‘Alright, maybe I’ll try something or do something new, or I’ll seek some additional support,'” Dougherty said.

Students can visit the Counseling Center on the sixth floor of O’Hara Hall to request services, or call 570-941-7620. Services are free and confidential for all enrolled undergraduate and graduate students of the University of Scranton.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255, or by visiting the website.