The NIU community is invited to hear a national speaker, Jordan Burnham, share his story of coping with depression when he visits campus on Sept. 21. The program is part of efforts by Helping Huskies Thrive, a suicide prevention and awareness effort on campus.
His visit takes place at 7 p.m. in the Sandburg Auditorium of the Holmes Student Center and is funded through a federal grant.
“We invited Jordan Burnham to come to campus to share his story because his experiences are all too common with our students, said Brooke M. Ruxton, executive director of Counseling and Consultation Services.
Ruxton explained Burnham struggled with anxiety and depression but kept those struggles hidden behind a seemingly happy and active façade.
“Until the pressures became too much to cope with anymore and he attempted to take his own life,” she said. “We hope there are students who will see themselves in Jordan’s story and have the courage to speak up and seek help. We also hope to educate and inform others about how to reach out to their friends to provide resources and support.”
In his presentation, “Jordan Burnham: Survival, Recovery, Acceptance,” Burnham tells the story of how as a high school student, he seemed to have it all. Popular, athletic, and loved by his supportive family, no one could have known that he was suffering with anxiety and depression. Soon he was drinking and his grades were falling, and he was finally diagnosed with depression. A year later, he found himself in a treatment center, and not long after that, in a hospital bed, following his attempt to end his life.
Now, Jordan speaks out about his struggles, and tries to serve as a messenger of hope for others. He shares how he has learned to cope with depression in healthy and positive ways, such as talk therapy and medication, physical exercise and a wide support network of family, friends and fellow advocates. He encourages others to have confidence in seeking help.
Helping Huskies Thrive is a partnership between Counseling & Consultation Services and the Department of Counseling, Adult, and Higher Education. Ruxton said the two departments collaborated to receive a federal grant, the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Suicide Prevention Grant, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA). The purpose of the program is to provide resources, training, and education regarding suicide prevention, as suicide remains one of the leading causes of death for college and university students.
“Helping Huskies Thrive is dedicated to helping students persist through times of doubt, connect with their strengths and thrive during their time at NIU and beyond,” she said.