Hunter College

Hunter College Suicide Prevention Program
Garrett Lee Smith Campus
New York

The Hunter College Suicide Prevention Program seeks to develop a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy at Hunter College of the City University of New York. As part of an urban, public university, Hunter College has a racially and ethnically diverse population of about 23,000 students (over 16,000 undergraduates), with over 60% of students coming from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds. Previous data from the College suggest that about 21% of undergraduates have thought about suicide in the previous year and 9-10% have made a previous suicide attempt, with rates distributed about equally across racial and ethnic groups, and with LGBTQI students showing even higher rates. However, racial and ethnic minority students underutilize treatment at Hunter, relative to their White peers, and reasons at-risk students have previously given for not seeking treatment include preferring to deal with problems on their own,not knowing if problems warrant treatment, and, for some ethnic minorities, preferences for seeking help from family or friends. Using these data, along with proposed screenings of incoming freshmen and transfer students, this program seeks to engage key student groups and partners across the college to 1) increase training in suicide prevention and mental health promotion for faculty, staff, and students; 2) increase collaboration among campus and community with the aim of suicide prevention and mental health awareness; 3) enhance available information on suicide prevention, substance misuse, and other mental health problems for students, faculty, staff, and family members; and 4) Increase help-seeking behavior amonghigher-risk and underutilizing student groups. This will be accomplished through engagement of key partners in the Psychology Department, Counseling & Wellness Services, Student Affairs,and the School of Public Health, along with members of student organizations, including LGBTQI, veteran, and associations of racial/ethnic minority students; gatekeeper training usingthe Kognito interactive suite to train increased numbers of faculty, staff, and students to identify students at risk and to refer them for treatment; to adapt educational materials to be distributed tofaculty, staff, students, and family members; and through the development of a credit-bearing course in the Psychology Department to train upper-level students as peer counselors and todevelop peer-led public health campaigns to educate the Hunter community about risk factors for suicidal behavior and mental health problems, including substance misuse, and to reduce thestigma surrounding mental health treatment seeking.