More than 800,000 suicides are recorded around the world each year, and suicide is the second most common cause of death among people aged 10 to 24 years in several countries.
These data from the World Health Organization also state that world suicide rates have increased by 60% in recent decades.
In the face of this situation, Tec de Monterrey has decided to do more to prevent suicides, adding programs and mechanisms for its community.
On World Suicide Prevention Day, Carlos Ordóñez, Director of Integrated Student Health and Wellbeing at the Tec, explains how the Tec takes this matter seriously and what steps it is taking in this interview with CONECTA.
Among other things, he explains that the following support mechanisms have been strengthened:
- A partnership with The JED Foundation, an international organization with expertise in emotional health and suicide prevention
- The TQueremos helpline for 24/7 psychological and emotional support
- The Taking Care of Your Mind site with resources for emotional well-being
- Training in QPR and Active Witness models to support and detect vulnerable people
If you are part of the Tec community and need emotional support, call 800 813 9500 now or visit tec.orienta-me.com
Preventing suicide on many fronts
“This is a very important issue for the Tec,” confirms Ordoñez. “It’s something to be faced not only reactively but also proactively, and we should take steps to prevent these situations,” he adds.
Ordónez mentions that the aim for every educational community, and of course what the Tec is looking to achieve, is to have zero suicides.
It is important to remember that, since 2017, the Tec has been strengthening the programs, resources and services available to its students.
“Today, we can confirm that we have saved lives thanks to timely interventions,” he adds, explaining the protocols.
“Worldwide best practices suggest having a ratio of one psychologist to every thousand students. As part of our institution’s commitment, fortunately we can say that at the Tec we have reached this level of care,” he shares.
Ordóñez points out that, in the last 18 months, 45 new psychologists have been recruited in order to increase the institution’s capacity to care for its community.
“Prevention is key. As suicide involves many factors, you have to work from different angles to be able to prevent it”, he explains.
“Fortunately, at the Tec we’re seeing results that are contrary to the global trend of growth, and I believe this is due to the efforts of the TQueremos program over the last three years. But we must never let our guard down.”
An international partnership against suicide.
Ordóñez mentions that this organization provides a benchmark in suicide prevention on an international level.
“JED Campus is a 4-year program which includes self-diagnosis, the application of the Healthy Minds Study to evaluate the emotional health of students, and the development of policies leading to a certification.
“For a few years now, we have based our prevention efforts on their model,” Ordoñez says.
This model is based on 7 concepts:
- Promoting social connection
- Identifying at-risk students
- Increasing help-finding behaviors
- Providing services to support mental health and substance abuse issues
- Following crisis management protocols
- Restricting access to potentially lethal media
- Developing life skills
Improving existing resources such as the TQueremos helpline, Active Witness, and QPR.
The program includes a research project which collects statistical data, permitting comparison with other universities and for the institution to take action.
So far, the Tec is the only Latin American university to join the JED Foundation program.
A 24-hour emotional support helpline
The resources provided by Tec include the TQueremos helpline, which addresses mental health issues, among others.
The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be used by students, as well as their parents/guardians, teachers, Tec staff, and members of their immediate family.
Between March and July, the TQueremos helpine provided support on 15,852 occasions.
Of the total calls made by PrepaTec students, 40% required emotional help, and at undergraduate level the figure was 64%.
The QPR program for detection and support
The TQueremos helpline is part of the TQueremos Program, which also includes the QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) program.
This program is based on a process in which members of a community are trained to recognize, approach, and help people having suicidal thoughts.
QPR at the Tec began in August 2017 and has trained more than 26,000 people from the Tec community nationwide.
“We cannot depend on parents or psychologists, or anyone in particular. We can all be part of prevention. We have to create an ecosystem of help in which each of us takes care of others,” said Ordóñez.
There are also more than 30,000 people across the nation who have been trained in another social intervention process called Active Witness.
“We can all be active witnesses. Using this methodology, we may come across a situation and intervene so as to prevent it escalating to something more serious,” said the director.
On each of the 26 Tec campuses in Mexico, there is a Wellbeing and Counseling Department staffed by psychologists who provide care to members of the community.
In the period between March and July 2020, support was provided on 11,852 occasions, of which 158 were related to suicide.
Emotional intelligence for young people since high school
Another of the suicide prevention and mental health initiatives is the Ruler emotional regulation program, developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
Ruler has been in place for 5 years at PrepaTec.
In addition, courses for teachers and Tec staff are available on the internal Success Factors platform.
Also, a Taking Care of Your Mind initiative microsite has been created, which has reliable information, validated by TecSalud experts, and mental health resources to support the community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic
In addition to this, Ordóñez adds that it is vital to study the issue of suicide to know how the population is doing.
“We are doing research on the health and wellbeing of the community, and we will continue to study this thoroughly,” he continued.
If you need help, call now!
Ordoñez invited anyone from the Tec community to join these prevention initiatives and, if they need support, to call the TQueremos helpline.
The helpline is free for members of the Tec community and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Call: 800 813 9500 or 442 295 3004
Or visit: tec.orienta-me.com
When a caller shares some personal details, that information is treated confidentially.
Depending on the needs of the person calling, they may be referred to a specialist.
“You can share your problems. As there are different types of services provided, if you need to speak to a psychologist, you can explain that you’re calling about an emotional issue,” Ordoñez said.
The director also explained that there is no time limit on each call, nor is there a limit on the number of calls that a person can make during the year.
Depending on the situation, there may be a follow-up with a specialist who can call you back if they think it is necessary.
The services offered by the helpline include emotional, medical, legal, financial, nutritional, and even veterinary support.
“All this and much more form the mechanisms that we can make use of,” commented Ordoñez.
He also invited those who need help to try out these programs, to acknowledge their situation, and get support where possible.
“If someone matters to you, let them know. Today. Don’t wait, because it can make a big difference,” he urged.
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