Courtesy UNK/Publication Design
Suicide Prevention on Campus: Keeping Students Connected
The University of Nebraska at Kearney’s (UNK’s) Active Minds members recently helped promote the campus Stomp Out Stigma Awareness Walk. The group set a pledge goal of 1,100 minutes of walking time. That represents the average number of 1,100 students nationally who die by suicide every year, said Kristin A. Steinbeck, Suicide Prevention Director at UNK’s Counseling and Health Care Center.
“We ended up getting 2,598 minutes pledged,” she reported. “The kids really pulled together.” Across a 2-hour span, about 65 people pledged from 20 to 60 minutes in support of suicide awareness.
The event received campus-wide exposure in the university newspaper, the Antelope.
Just as one suicide affects hosts of people, suicide prevention needs to involve more than two people sitting behind a closed office door. That’s a guiding principle behind SAMHSA’s Campus Suicide Prevention Grant program, according to Rosalyn Blogier, LCSW-C, a public health advisor in the Suicide Prevention Branch in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS).
The University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) is 1 of 49 SAMHSA-funded campuses around the Nation working to reach students in crisis. Ms. Blogier is the Project Officer for UNK and for more than 20 Campus Suicide Prevention program grantees. (See SAMHSA News online, November/December 2007, to read about grantees at Syracuse University and the University of California–Irvine.)
“This grant program assists colleges and universities in their efforts to prevent suicide attempts and completions,” said Richard McKeon, Ph.D., M.P.H., Public Health Advisor for Suicide Prevention at CMHS. “It also helps to enhance services for students with mental and behavioral health problems, such as depression and substance abuse, which put them at risk for suicide.”
The program funded the first cohort in 2005. Funds were made possible through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act.
“We are trying to encourage greater partnership across campus organizations so that the college community understands that mental health promotion and suicide prevention are everyone’s responsibility,” said Ms. Blogier.
The grantees form an interlocking network across the country.
“Colleges and universities use SAMHSA funds to perform myriad activities that all aim to raise awareness among students, professors, and campus leadership to get help to those who need it,” said Maria Dinger, R.N., Suicide Prevention Branch Chief at CMHS.
Activities can include creating networks of student services to identify behavioral health problems, promoting stress reduction and help-seeking behaviors, and preparing materials that address warning signs of suicide and identify actions to take with students in crisis.
Find out more about SAMHSA’s Campus Suicide Prevention Grant program.
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