Old Dominion University

Garrett Lee Smith Campus

This proposal, entitled Implementing a Social-Ecological Suicide Prevention Program (SESPP) at Old Dominion University (ODU), adopts a public health approach to suicide prevention among 24,000 college students. The program seeks to build sustainable infrastructure at ODU to enhance mental health service provision, improve campus-wide mental health-related attitudes, and reduce college student stress, suicide risk and substance abuse. Populations Served: The following specific groups are served across SESPP program components:

  1. faculty, staff, and administration;
  2. at-risk student groups (e.g., military, LGBTQ, students with disabilities);
  3. students experiencing stress, mental health and/or substance use concerns;
  4. police officers, and;
  5. a range of Norfolk, VA area community partners (e.g., VA Medical Center, LGBT Center).

Strategies/Interventions: A number of programs will be implemented to serve ODU stakeholders. First, an integrated Campus-Community Suicide Prevention Taskforce will be assembled to formulate a strategic plan, establish a regional campus-community referral network, and provide other project guidance. Second, a campus awareness program will be instituted, including weekly emails, campus flyers, a mental health resources website, and free on-campus mental health screenings. Third, Counseling Services and Student Health service providers will receive a series of trainings in evidence-based practices (e.g., brief psychotherapies). An annual undergraduate suicide prevention course for health professions students will augment training efforts. Fourth, QPR and Safe Talk gate-keeper trainings will be implemented for all stakeholder groups. Finally, a series of campus outreach programs (i.e., LGBTQ Safe Space, military Green Zone, and Life Skills Training) will be conducted on campus.

Project Goals & Objectives:

  • Goal 1 holds the objectives to enhance suicide prevention skills among 20 health service providers and 75 total undergraduate health professions students.
  • Goal 2 features the objective to provider gate-keeping training for a total of 480 students, staff, faculty, administrators, and police officers.
  • For Goal 3, the awareness campaign holds objectives to reach 6,000 students, family members, staff and faculty through electronic means, as well as 300 students via free on-campus mental health screenings. Goal 4 addressing at-risk groups possesses the objectives to educate 100 students, faculty and staff via outreach programming each on LGBTQ concerns and military student needs.
  • Goal 5 holds the objectives to add a total of 9 community members to the Campus-Community Taskforce, and implement a referral resource network.
  • Goal 6 seeks the following student well-being objectives: 5% reduction in financial stress, 10% reduction in mental/emotional difficulties impacting academic work, 3% decrease in 12-month self-harm prevalence, 2% reduction in 12-month prevalence of suicidal ideation, 5% reduction of binge drinking, 10% increase in student willingness to use health services, and 10% reduction in suicide-related stigma beliefs. Goal 7 holds the objective to establish a campus-wide suicide prevention strategic plan.