2012-09-20 / Front Page
Grant funds will enhance suicide prevention programs
Monmouth U will use grant to identify and provide services to students in crisis
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 18 to 24 year olds, affecting approximately 3,700 young adults a year. Of those, 60 percent are college students, accounting for 1,000 to 1,100 campus deaths each year. Monmouth University officials announced on Sept. 10 that a $301,215 grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would be used over the next three years to assist in the university’s suicide prevention programs and to enhance mental health services to students in crisis.
“Today, we focus with the World Health Organization and with the International Association for Suicide Prevention to not only identify and reduce risks to suicide but to also strengthen protective factors and to build individual resilience,” Monmouth University President Paul G. Gaffney II said at the kick-off event held in Magill Commons on World Suicide Prevention Day.
“Suicide prevention is everyone’s business around here. Watching out for friends can lead to the identification of those who need our immediate help.” On the Monmouth University campus, approximately 800 students were identified as at-risk for suicide and referred for help last year, Mancini said.
Approximately 30 to 40 percent of those students reported that depression was a factor and 55 to 65 percent suffered from anxiety, said Franca Mancini, director of counseling and psychological services. University officials and local partners at the event in addition to Mancini included Michelle Scott, assistant professor at the School of Social Work, and Robin Mama, dean of the School of Social Work.
“Individuals who are at the highest risk of suicide are individuals who have already made a suicide attempt. Ninety percent of individuals who die of suicide have some sort of mental health issues,” Scott said.
“The campus suicide prevention initiative mission is to build a supportive suicide prevention infrastructure.”
The federal grant will fund the Wellness and Resiliency Program, a university and community partnership whose purpose is to enhance prevention programs, identify at-risk students and increase the use of suicide prevention services for all students, particularly those with mental and behavioral health problems, which elevate risk for suicide attempts and fatalities.
According to Scott, the grant provides three years of funding and supports six key initiatives:
To encourage students to seek help and to and reduce the stigma associated with accessing mental and behavioral health services
To develop training programs for students and campus personnel
To build on existing programs and community partnerships through a public awareness campaign
To conduct educational seminars
• To prepare and distribute educational materials for families of students
• To raise awareness of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK), which provides 24-hour help.
By the end of the grant period, more than 700 “gatekeepers” and providers and the 6,000 university students will be offered training in mental health and suicide awareness, identifying at-risk students and referring these students to available services.
According to Mancini, training will begin with students and adults including resident assistants, police, student athlete leaders and peer leaders.
Clinical staff on campus including substance abuse, mental health and health personnel will be included and ultimately clinical personnel off-campus.
Mama added that two groups have been established to promote wellness and resiliency.
The working group includes university departments such as information management, student and community services, resident life, health services and veteran services. The advisory group is made up of off-campus partners including Monmouth Medical Center, Carrier Clinic, Meridian Health, Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide and the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County.
“If you impact a student in terms of their mental health,” Mancini said, “you have increased protective factors and decreased risk factors.”