The Suicide Prevention Program at Salisbury University (SU) is a collaboration of University departments and organizations, both on and off campus, seeking to best serve approximately 8,400 undergraduate and graduate students. A multi-pronged approach will be used to educate the campus community, including educational media campaign. E-trainings and in-person discussion groups for students, faculty, and staff serve as the core of our approach.
By the end of our funding cycle, we expect to demonstrate increases in faculty, staff, and students’ knowledge of the resources available to students, ability to identify and discuss warning signs of distress, comfort with assisting students in need of help, and, if appropriate, capacity to refer students to the campus Counseling Center. Of particular focus is decreasing the stigma attached to seeking and receiving mental health assistance, as well as increasing outreach to historically underserved and at-risk populations on campus. All 10,000 members of the campus community will be served on an annual basis via the educational media campaign. As a result, it is expected that several thousand students, staff, and faculty will complete training programs and that hundreds of at-risk students will receive mental health services
SU is located on the rural Eastern Shore of Maryland and is part of the University System of Maryland. SU is a growth university, and as such, we expect our student population to expand; generally 2,100 new and transfer students enter SU each year. Approximately 20% of the student population at SU consists of minority students; of the 616 faculty members and 1007 staff, 10.4% of the faculty and 35.4% of the staff are also members of historically defined minority populations. Recent data from campus organizations indicate that many members of our student population are in need of mental health intervention since suicidal ideation, alcohol and drug problems, self-injurious behavior, and depression are all occurring at high rates at SU.
We have targeted three main goals for the Suicide Prevention Program: 1) Increase early detection; 2) Increase help-seeking behavior in students; and 3) Increase help-seeking behavior in high-risk students. Program objectives and activities have been designed for each goal. Our evaluation plan includes multiple measures to assess whether we have met our stated goals and related objectives. First, a campus-wide survey will be distributed that captures information across our dominant indicators; second, the Counseling Center maintains a database of information on the type and number of referrals, consultations, interventions, and demographics of their clients; and third, the e-trainings used in the Program (Kognito’s at-risk for University Students and at-risk for University Faculty) deliver reports on outcomes for all participants. Program staff has demonstrated ability to implement and evaluate the Suicide Prevention Program; by the end of our funding cycle, we believe we will have made a considerable impact on the mental health and help-seeking culture at SU and create a permanent change in the campus community that will extend beyond the end of the grant.