Medical University of South Carolina

A Suicide Prevention Program for the Medical University of South Carolina
Garrett Lee Smith Campus
South Carolina

Healthcare professionals are at higher risk for suicide than many other occupational groups. Risk factors for suicide, including depression and substance abuse, occur at alarmingly high rates among students in healthcare professions. Unfortunately, students are reluctant to receive mental health treatment due to a number of obstacles-to care unique to this population. The goals of the proposed project:  Suicide Prevention Program for the Medical University of South Carolina are first, to intervene prior to the development of mental and behavioral health problems with a preventative approach designed to overcome obstacles-to-care that has shown to be effective in medical trainees. Within the prevention program, students will also be given web-based educational materials and self-assessment tools to assist in the recognition of mental health problems and important contact information for free and confidential mental health services. Second, we will utilize the Suicide Prevention Resource Center to provide training to key members of our faculty and staff who have regular contact with students.

Trainings will better equip participants in how to recognize behavioral patterns and warning signs consistent with mental health problems including suicide and intervene appropriately to facilitate and ensure access to necessary mental health services. Participants in the suicide prevention programs will be drawn from a diverse population of students, faculty and staff at MUSC with 64% of health professional students being female; 3% Hispanic; and 19% underrepresented minorities. Although most MUSC students are from South Carolina, approximately one third are drawn from a national applicant pool, ensuring that there is substantial diversity with respect to cultural economic backgrounds. Further, South Carolina is a state with a rich military heritage, and MUSC has special outreach efforts to recruit students who are veterans or family members of active duty military.

The suicide prevention program will start in the College of Medicine including a total of 600 students, with 150 staff and faculty suicide prevention trainees. Participants in the second year of the project will include 1850 students in the College of Medicine, Health Professions and Nursing with 450 suicide prevention trainees. During the third year of the project we will extend the prevention program to the entire MUSC community including the College of Medicine, Health Professions, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dental Medicine, and Graduate Studies involving a total of 2500 students, with 650 faculty and staff suicide prevention trainees. By providing education in suicide and mental health risk reduction to this large and diverse group of students, faculty, and staff from numerous health-related professions, we will not only improve the mental health status of the students but also the quality of care they can deliver to the patients they treat.