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Local attorney speaks to Senate about suicide prevention

Will Jones

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“At the age of 16, I became a survivor of suicide.” 

These were the words of Mary Turner Roberts, an attorney in Tuscaloosa as she began to detail how her life has been affected by suicide. It was at the age of 16 that Roberts’ father ended his life. 

Tragedy struck Roberts and her family again years later when her mother, at the age of 70, ended her life in the same manner and bedroom as her father. Roberts recalled driving home with her husband after receiving the news.

“As I was driving over there I remember screaming to my husband, ‘I can’t go through this again!’ My husband grabbed ahold of me and he said, ‘You can and you will,” Roberts said.

In 2011, Roberts received a phone call, informing her that her older brother had died by suicide. Instead of letting these tragedies overwhelm her life, Roberts has resolved to raise awareness for suicide prevention and work to end the stigma of mental health.

After discussing her life and how it has been affected by suicide, Roberts thanked the Senate for their work with the Out of Darkness walk.

“If we seriously invest in suicide prevention like we do cancer or AIDS or anything else, we can overcome this,” she said.

After Roberts concluded her remarks, the Senate discussed a plethora of legislation, including Resolution 07, announcing a student internship with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox and an act to allow some students in the College of Arts and Sciences to have online advising.

The internship will be open to students who have at least 31 University credit hours and are available from 12-7 p.m. on Tuesdays for the duration of the semester-long internship. The application will be open for 10 days and will be reviewed by a committee chaired by Dean of Students Tim Hebson. The committee will choose three finalists from which the mayor will choose the student who will receive the internship.

The resolution was unanimously passed.

Senate also discussed Act 10. This would allow Arts and Sciences students with more than 44 University credit hours who have made the Dean’s List for at least two consecutive semesters to participate in online advising. These students would view an advising tutorial and have the option to forgo in-person advising, according to the act. Students would fill out the Academic Plan detailing which courses they plan to take and email the form to their advisor. Advisors would review the plan, write comments if necessary, send the final version of the plan to the student and then clear them to register.

The act was sent to the Academic Affairs Committee.

Order of Events

1. Remarks from Mary Turner Roberts.

2. Bill 04 to change Senate attendance policy reintroduced, passed.

3. Act 08 providing funding to raise awareness for the UA Safety Application reintroduced, passed.

4. Resolution 07 introduced, passed.

5. Act 09 to approve Financial Affairs Committee funding requests for October introduced, passed.

6. Act 10 introduced, sent to the Academic Affairs Committee.

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Local attorney speaks to Senate about suicide prevention