Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University Suicide Awareness and Focus on Safety (EKU SAFE)
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

Eastern Kentucky University’s Suicide Awareness and Focus on Suicide (EKU SAFE) seeks systematically to create a safer and more caring campus community, to assist those at-risk for suicidal behavior, and to support those who are concerned regarding the welfare of members of the community. This project will be accomplished by using a public health model which expands on current campus practices to create a systemic program of suicide prevention and postvention that integrates service, policy and referral networks. EKU SAFE will more closely tie efforts between the Department of Psychology, the Counseling Center, Student Affairs, Housing, and community health care providers.

EKU SAFE will expand current prevention and gatekeeper training efforts, increase awareness and availability of mental health services to students, and better link the various means by which students access support and mental health resources at EKU. The goal is to reduce both direct and indirect population risk while also sealing the cracks in high-risk or critical cases by improving appropriate referral, treatment and follow-up. Suicide prevention efforts at EKU, which have been led to-date by the Counseling Center, have garnered substantial interest and commitment from both university leaders and front-line departments in developing solid partnerships and a more systemic structure for managing critical student incidents, mental health emergencies and suicide.

Major aspects of the program include:

  1. Campus Network and Policy Development in which a campus advisory group will be formed with representation from more than 8 campus departments, offices and academic units and eight community consultants, with the goal of creating a comprehensive, regularly-assessed and evidence-based campus suicide prevention plan;
  2. Health Communications and Stigma Reduction that aims to utilize social marketing and educational programs for students, their families, and community members which will decrease stigma and encourage help-seeking; and
  3. Gatekeeper and Clinical Training that seeks to expand gatekeeper training so that it is systematic in targeting specific populations of students, faculty and staff, and ensures that campus professionals and students in professional programs receive appropriate clinical training. Evaluation and data collection efforts will aid in providing evidence of whether grant activities are furthering best practices.

The project currently enjoys the support of multiple campus partners as well as university administration at the highest levels and community partners who are committed to creating a systemic suicide prevention program at EKU. The goal is to help our community keep “safe” from emergencies such as suicide, the types of events which no one on campus ever wants to happen. Increasing campus networks, campus policy, communications and clinical services will create a caring campus community.