Adams State University

Adams State University
Hispanic Serving Institution

The Adams State University Campus Suicide Prevention Program will implement infrastructure improvements and an annual program of campus outreach activities and gatekeeper trainings to foster a campus culture of help-seeking and reporting, and reduce the stigma associated with depression, substance abuse, and suicidal behaviors. The ASU program provides connections with mental health providers and on-campus groups, and provides referrals for at-risk students.

The 2009 suicide rate of 18.4/100,000 in Colorado is the sixth-highest in the US. The San Luis Valley rate of over 28/100,000 in 2009 leads Colorado. The San Luis Valley (SLV) is an extremely rural region at an altitude of 7,500 feet that includes some of the poorest counties in the nation and where the citizens struggle with low levels of education and high use of alcohol and other drugs. This suicide prevention project focuses on ASU students (2500), faculty and staff (500) with particular outreach to high-risk populations, such as GLBT, veteran, and American Indian students. 44% of ASU students are residents of the SLV and 86% are from Colorado. Reflective of SLV demographics, ASU has the largest percentage of minority students (39%) and the largest percentage of students who are eligible for need-based Pell grants (61%; avg. family income: $24,555) of any four-year institution in Colorado.

Project activities will build the university’s network of support and provider services for students and will promote a culture of help-seeking and reporting through gatekeeper trainings and campus outreach activities. Building on ASU existing prevention policy, a comprehensive crisis response plan will be developed. Infrastructure improvements include hiring an Outreach Coordinator/Prevention Specialist to work closely with ASU Students of Concern Committee to track and make referrals for students struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions. Developing trainers for ASIST and SafeTALK will dramatically increase the number of faculty, staff, and student leaders able to intervene with a suicidal student, and will increase awareness of suicide prevention resources. Annual mental health and alcohol screening events on campus will identify at-risk students and raise campus awareness of prevention issues. Partnerships with on-campus groups including the Gay-Straight Alliance, the Student Veterans group, and the Student Life Cross-Cultural Center will promote resources for high-risk populations. Community mental health providers will assist ASU with strengthening communications with emergency services and student connections to local, state and federal resources. Measurable objectives include increasing: number of faculty, staff, and student leaders trained in ASIST and/or SafeTALK; number of students of concern effectively tracked, provided with referrals and follow-ups; protocols adopted with mental health providers; and number of participants impacted through outreach activities. While the project aims to impact all of ASU students and faculty/staff, we anticipate reaching 800 or more participants each year. Estimated project total is 3,000 served.