Indian-origin student ups mental health awareness in the US

Washington, Sep 10 (IANS) An Indian-origin student from North Carolina State University has been raising awareness among students, faculty and administrators about mental health issues.

“One of our main goals is to reduce the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses and surrounding suicide, because no one talks about it,” said Avi Aggarwal, president of the NC State student organisation Nation’s Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) while marking the World Suicide Prevention Day that was observed on Thursday.

The organisation is also promoting existing mental health services on campus and assist students in receiving care from such services, the student newspaper of NC State University Technician reported.

“Over 90 percent of people who commit suicide are diagnosed with a mental illness,” Aggarwal was quoted as saying.

The NAMI, in coordination with the NC State Student Health Centre, had also planned a candlelight vigil on Thursday.

“I think the vigil is like metaphor: we’re lighting these candles; we’re bringing light to the issue and creating a safe environment for people to come and share since it is a sensitive subject,” Aggarwal said.

She added that internationally, other organisations will also light candles at 8.00 p.m.

The international theme of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day is “Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives”.

Being organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) since 2003, the initiative seeks support from governments, NGOs, international and national associations, to raise public awareness about one of the world’s largest causes of premature and unnecessary death – suicide.

According to the latest suicide figures provided by non-profit organisation suicide.org, over one million people die by committing suicide worldwide each year and the global suicide rate has increased 60 percent in the past 45 years.

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