CAPS aims to help students struggling with suicidal thoughts

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The sign outside the CAPS office in the basement of the WILK. Photo by Miranda Facer
The sign outside the CAPS office in the basement of the Wilkinson Student Center. (Miranda Facer)

College can be difficult, between balancing academic pressure, work obligations and social relationships. Sometimes feelings of stress develop into depression and leave students feeling alone, overwhelmed and hopeless about the future. Some students may sink so low as to consider suicide.

“College is a time when people are making a lot of really significant changes and decisions in their lives,” said Amy Black, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program. “That can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, which can contribute to or exacerbate suicidal thoughts and feelings.”

Students do not have to face these feelings alone, however. The Counseling and Psychological Services office, located in room 1500 of the Wilkinson Student Center, provides free individual, group and couples therapy for full-time, day-time students.

“Reaching out for help can be difficult for people who are struggling with depression because (it’s) so isolating and exhausting,” Black said  “But it’s so important that people are aware of the resources out there and know that help is available.”

Tom Golightly, CAPS’ associate clinical director, said the office employs clinical faculty and advanced doctoral students who meet with students for therapy sessions.

“Most people who are experiencing heavy anxiety or depression are going to feel suicidal thoughts, and those are very treatable,” Golightly said. “It sounds so different once you come in and start talking out loud instead of keeping them in your head; there’s a different flow, and you get yourself unstuck as you talk out loud.”

Golightly emphasized the need for students who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts to recognize they are not alone.

“It’s helpful to reach out so you don’t feel so isolated,” Golightly said. “If you’re experiencing those thoughts, you’re not weird. Come see us and talk about it; we’re here to help.”

Mindy Nelsen, a graduate student in film education and media literacy, said CAPS is a good resource for students to utilize because it is accessible.

“Because (CAPS) is free, it opens help up to people who may not be able to afford counseling,” Nelsen said.

For those who may know someone who is experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts but may not know how to help, CAPS is launching a new website called help.byu.edu with resources on how to approach these difficult topics.

“We (at CAPS) aren’t going to know of everyone who is hurting, but we can help the people who do know learn how to have the necessary conversations,” Golightly said.

The website is scheduled to launch in the next few months, Golightly said.

Students can make an appointment at CAPS by filling out the online paperwork at https://caps.byu.edu/paperwork and then calling 801-422-3035 to schedule a session. If a student needs to see a counselor immediately, they can go to the office during normal office hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or call University Police when the office is closed to speak to an onsite counselor at 801-422-2222.

All information shared in a session at CAPS is confidential and will not be shared with a student’s parents or ecclesiastical leader.

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