National Suicide Prevention Week, which starts Monday, has special meaning for University of Iowa psychology professor John Westefeld, who lost a close friend to suicide when he was young and had to endure multiple attempted suicides by a family member.
In addition to compelling him to become a psychologist, the experience inspired him to dedicate professional research to suicide and host prevention workshops, one of which will be Wednesday on the UI campus on World Suicide Prevention Day.
In 2009, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 289 suicides by men and 67 suicides by women.
Westefeld, the author of multiple published writings on the issue including “Understanding and preventing college student suicide” in 2011, said the sometimes-taboo nature of suicide can be detrimental for potential victims.
“Many people continue to believe that if suicide is discussed openly, or if we are concerned about someone being suicidal, and we bring up the topic, we will be giving them ideas that may lead them to attempt,” Westefeld said. “Though anything is possible with suicide, we are more likely to save a life than cause a suicide if we reach out to someone we are concerned about.”
Anyone who plans on attending is encouraged to register with Westefeld via email.
Reach Chase Castle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 887-5412.
If you go
• What: Suicide prevention workshop hosted by John Westefeld of the UI Psychology Department.
• When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
• Where: University of Iowa, Lindquist Center, 240 S. Madison St.
• Cost: Free.
• Information: Westefeld requests that anyone who plans on attending Wednesday’s workshop contact him at email@example.com.