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Belmont counseling is not afraid to talk about suicide

This week is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week. The Vision has made this a special topic and will spend the week highlighting resources and people on campus who are here to help. If you or someone you know is struggling, call the Suicide Lifeline at 988 or reach out to Belmont’s Office of Counseling Services.


It’s Katherine Cornelius’ job to talk about suicide.

As the director of Counseling Services, she’s not afraid to ask students the hard questions about self-harm.

Have you wished you could go to sleep and not wake up?

Have you had these thoughts and intend to act on them?

Cornelius and her team of 11 therapists support and listen to every member of the Belmont community who walks through the door. And they screen each person for suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

“The issue of suicide is huge, and I’ve only seen it increase, and we are on trend with everybody else,” she said. “If you look across national statistics, Belmont is no different.”

This week, during Belmont’s Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week, Counseling Services wants to make sure all students know they are a resource to anyone struggling.

Katherine Cornelius. Sarah Maninger/Belmont Vision

“We found that more people than not have thoughts of suicide, it’s just a very common thing,” Cornelius said.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

And Belmont is not immune.

“One is too many. We have significantly more than one,” said Angie Bryant, assistant dean of students.

Cornelius and Bryant were instrumental in creating a week centered around suicide prevention and highlighting the resources available on campus.

“If we can start helping students to realize they’re not alone in this, and to take advantage of the resources that are here, that’s why we’re here,” said Bryant.

Angie Bryant. Sarah Maninger/Belmont Vision

Counseling Services offers one-on-one counseling as well as group therapy during regular office hours.

For acute issues outside of those hours, Belmont offers TimelyCare, a 24/7 service for students to get virtual help when they can’t see a therapist in person.

Through TimelyCare, students get connected to a therapist – not necessarily one from Belmont – for an immediate online session. They can then follow up with one of Belmont’s counselors afterwards.

And it seems to be working, she said.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cornelius has seen more and more students reaching out to find help.

“I think in some ways it’s really risen mental health to the forefront where people are being more honest and open about how hard things can be.”

Her hope is by hosting Suicide Prevention and Awareness week, students realize there are resources on campus and off “because you matter,” Cornelius said.

“I mean that’s the whole thing. You matter, you have worth, we want you here.”

PHOTO: Katherine Cornelius. Sarah Maninger/Belmont Vision

This story was written by Sarah Maninger

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