Bethune Cookman University

Bethune-Cookman University

Bethune-Cookman University, a historical black university associated with the United Methodist Church seeks SAMHSA funding to establish a Campus Wide Suicide Prevention Program. Specifically, the university will develop an infrastructure within its Office of Student Affairs to establish a network of key gatekeepers, including health, mental health, residence hall, and security staff, faculty, administrators, student government leaders and community behavioral health partners who will design and implement a strategic plan to diminish or eliminate risk factors that predispose students to suicidal ideation and prevent suicidal attempts and other behavioral health problems. This network of services will be known as Project STEPS-Survival Through Education Prevention and Services.

Project STEPS’s major objectivesinclude: a) providing Q(question) P(persuade) and R(refer) training to key gatekeepers, students and their parents; b) facilitating educational seminars and cultural diversity workshops to students, their parents, faculty, and staff on the myths and stigma associated with suicide and depression, c) promoting help-seeking behaviors within the student body by replacing the negative attitudes of the behavioral health systems held by many African-Americans, d) distributing informational literature on suicide and depression throughout the campus and at all organized student activities; e) strengthening the relationships of off-campus community behavioral health providers, and f) providing educational information to parents on campus, over the Internet, through mail, and through a Campus Wide Suicide Hot Line. Project STEPS has selected this as the bedrock of its training/educational seminars and workshops for administrators, faculty, and staff, gatekeepers, the student body and their parents. The QPR approach to training utilizing various levels within a community is compatible with Project STEP’s philosophy of serving the campus where at-risk students reside as opposed to identifying individual students in need. QPR training recognizes that students who most need help in a suicidal crisis are the least likely to seek it, or demonstrate warning signs of their distress. Therefore, the project will have a special focus on entering freshmen and their parents or caregivers, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

The project will serve an average of 1200 students and 150 faculty and staff over the life of the project. Programming will improve the quality and intensity of services for the target populations through implementation of “best practice” suicide prevention approaches, modified to address the unique needs of a predominantly African-American student body. Services will be implemented through a system of care emphasizing a person-centered, strength-based approach to self harm with family involvement and peer support. The project will promote a prevention delivery system that addresses student body, familial, faculty and staff needs anchored in HBCU tradition and in nearby communities where participants reside, to ensure continuity of care.