The Sacred Purpose Blog

Going to college can be a difficult transition period in which students may feel lost, lonely, confused, anxious, inadequate, and stressed.  Students are often away from home and friends for the first time. They’re living with strangers, far from their support systems, and working under intense pressure – with disrupted sleeping, eating and exercise patterns. You could hardly design a more stressful atmosphere, particularly when depression or other mental health issues enter the picture.

According to studies, over 50 percent of undergraduates have considered suicide.  But, if we look deeper, we learn that 1 in 12 students have actually made a suicide plan and 1.5 out of every 100 have actually attempted it. 

And the number one cause of suicide for college student suicides (and all suicides) is untreated depression.  We have learned that college students who are suicidal are quiet, reserved, depressed, and socially isolated.  As a result, it is up to all of us to identify the suicide warning signs and get help for our brothers.

Warning signs can include:

          Any signs of depression, such as sad mood, reduced interest and enjoyment in life and a sense of hopelessness

          Withdrawing from friends and activities

          Talking about suicide. This may be stated directly — “I’m going to kill myself.” Or indirectly — “You would be better off without me,” “I wish I were not alive anymore,” or “Soon you won’t have to worry about me anymore.”  Eight of ten suicides verbalize their intention to commit suicide

          Giving away possessions

          Abrupt change in personality and behavior — including appearing sad, anxious or hostile most of the time or displaying unusual calmness after a loss or period of depression

          Sudden drop in school performance

          Dwelling on an academic or relationship setback or other loss of prestige or physical health

What to do when you suspect a student is suicidal:

          Develop a relationship with them or strengthen your current relationship by being available to listen and talk.  Show and say that you care about them

          Ask directly about suicide.  You will not be “putting thoughts into the person’s head” or causing them distress — in fact, it’s the best thing you can do.  Don’t act shocked or scared and don’t argue about morality of suicide

Ask the following questions to assess their seriousness:

          Are you thinking about hurting yourself or committing suicide?

          When would you do it?

          What would you do?

          What method(s) would you use?

          How available is this method to you?

          Who can you turn to for help?

          When are your family members home?

If you’ve determined the situation is serious enough that they have a plan and the means to execute the plan, do not leave the student alone unless you are physically threatened.  Call your college suicide hotline or 911.

Finally, encourage the student to seek professional guidance. If they refuse help, contact someone in authority immediately — an angry friend is better than a dead one.  Maintain contact with the student until help is secured.

This video offers essential insight for all Theta Chi brothers.  For many years Sergeant Kevin Briggs had a dark, unusual, at times strangely rewarding job: He patrolled the southern end of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a popular site for suicide attempts. In a sobering, deeply personal talk Briggs shares stories from those he’s spoken — and listened — to standing on the edge of life. He gives a powerful piece of advice to those with loved ones who might be contemplating suicide. 

Temperance Training

Editor’s note:  This is a guest post from Kris Wolfe.  Kris was a founding father of our Iota Beta chapter at Missouri State, where he graduated in 1999.  Kris is the creator and editor of a men’s online magazine called GoodGuySwag.com.  It is a fantastic site that encourages young men to lead, to be successful, and to live with integrity.

Over and over, we say the word “temperance” every time we recite the Creed of Theta Chi.  But, what can that word teach us about exercising?

Temperance is a universal quality of a man. It means to curb your alcohol intake, but it can also refer to moderating your mood, thoughts, or actions. When guys at the gym every so often decide to send out a tweet, a Facebook post, or even a #selfie on Instagram, the word most often used is #beastmode. Who doesn’t want to be the Hulk at the gym? It’s the best place to release stress, anger, and pent up aggression. Whereas the Hulk is unbridled rage, temperance is a character trait involving restraint, and you can use it for your benefit in the gym. The top bodybuilders demonstrate some form of restraint in the gym because the best growth comes from controlled movement, good form, and a balanced body.

If you’re new to the gym, I remember the intimidation I felt the first time I walked in. I felt so small and inexperienced, but even the biggest of the muscle heads has some respect for you making the effort to be there….unless you’re taking too much time on the bench, using the squat rack for bicep curls, or acting like you spend two hours at the gym when you really are just talking. Then, you’re just an irritant.

No one is going to lol at you. However, if you are not using correct form, they might get a good laugh inside and snap a video or picture to upload to Instagram.

Here are 3 aspects of temperance training that will help you grow some solid size and keep you off the Awkward Gym Moments page.

1. Controlled Movement

Brothers don’t let brothers do uncontrolled jerk movements in the gym. You might see a crossfit guy doing jerk-movement pull-ups, but the movements are controlled and practiced to form. The best way to control your movement is to lift a weight you can manage. If you’re throwing your whole body up trying to do a bicep curl, you’re doing too much weight.

2. Good form

Too many dudes are trying to make the St. Louis Gateway arch on the bench. Excessive arching can lead to lower back injuries.  Good form will ensure muscle growth while preventing injury. Anytime you are straining, whether it be your neck or your back, you are increasing your risk of injury.

3. Balanced body

Excessively training only one muscle group can lead to the potato on the toothpicks look.  You know, the guy with a big chest and chicken legs? Temperance training means equal training of all body parts. Once again, a balanced body not only looks the best, but it also prevents injury. I’m guilty. Over a year ago, I tore my rotator cuff because my chest was disproportionately bigger than my shoulders and upper back.

Exercise your beast mode, use temperance training, and be a managed Hulk. Temperance is a holistic characteristic.  When you use it at the gym, you will physically grow, but it will spill over into other areas of your life as well. You will begin to treat your body like a temple, and you’ll be careful with your food intake and your alcohol intake. You will begin to listen to and change your thoughts because even your mindset affects your training. The restraint in temperance will unexpectedly lead to bigger growth and results.

Editor’s note:  This is a guest post from Peter Mulvihill, Epsilon/Worcester Polytechnic Institute, ’78. Pete is the chapter advisor for our Beta Phi colony at Nevada.  He is currently serving as the Nevada State Fire Marshal.  I am grateful for Pete’s expertise and enthusiasm to write a five-part blog series about fire safety.  This is a relevant reminder about the very real dangers of fires in fraternity houses.  Thank you, Pete, for helping to protect our brothers.

It is never a question of if a fire will occur, only a question of when it will happen.  It may go without saying, but nobody wants to have a fire.  However, the truth is that the vast majority of fires are unintentional, with only 7 percent being deliberately set.  The other 93 percent are not planned.

When the fire starts, what does your chapter have in place that will protect you, your brothers, and your guests?  What plans do you have that will reduce the damage to your chapter house? 

According to a 2013 report published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) entitled Structure Fires in Dormitories, Fraternities, Sororities and Barracks, each year there are approximately 3,810 fires in these types of structures in the United States.  Annually, these fires caused an average of two deaths, thirty injuries, and $9.4 million in property damage.  Additional untold challenges and costs are caused by emotional distress, dislocation from one’s residence, and personal energy spent rebuilding.

  • 70 percent of these fires began in the kitchen
  • 7 percent of these fires started in bedrooms.  However, bedroom fires were responsible for 27 percent of injuries and 21 percent of property damage
  • 23 percent of all injuries were caused by fires associated with heating equipment
  • Fires are more common between 5-11 p.m., as well a during weekend
  • Electrical distribution and lighting caused the largest property damage from fires

Fortunately, most fires are small.  Ninety-two percent did not produce flame damage that spread beyond the point of origin. Only, two percent of all fires spread to involve more than the room of origin.  This tells us that that a functioning fire protection system reduces the spread of fire.  And, more importantly, this reminds us that well-practiced fire safety plans can save lives by giving people opportunity for escape before the fire spreads. 

What can you do to protect your brothers?  Now is the time to start planning and practicing your fire safety program.  The Resource Guide for the Vice President of Health and Safety includes a helpful checklist for conducting regular fire and building safety inspections.  It is an essential resource for undergraduate and alumni leaders.  The summer months offer an important opportunity to fire inspections and planning.

Because of the critical nature of this topic, this is the first of five articles that will further raise awareness and provide practical ideas for protecting our brothers.

The complete NFPA report can be found on their website, www.nfpa.org under research reports, or at this link: http://www.nfpa.org/~/media/Files/Research/NFPA%20reports/Occupancies/osdorms.pdf

Despite the significant progress made in reducing violence against women, there is still a long way to go.  Every brother should watch this video that was recently produced by the White House.  Spread the word that Theta Chi is fighting back and will be a part of the solution.  We are men who are ennobled by high and sacred purpose.  Click here to learn more and to get involved.

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