Sierra College

Sierra College Suicide Prevention Program
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

The Sierra College Suicide Prevention Program reflects a comprehensive and sustainable approach to effectively address student mental health/substance use disorders that can lead to suicide and suicide attempts. The goal is to prevent suicide and promote mental wellness by creating a caring, inclusive and knowledgeable  campus community that reaches out to distressed students, alleviates barriers to help-seeking, and facilitates access to culturally and linguistically appropriate resources. Emphasis is based on high-risk groups including student veterans and military family members, lesbian/gay/bisexual/ transgender/intersex/queer students (LGBTIQ) and American Indian/Alaska Native students (AI/AN). Located in Placer County, California, Sierra College serves 19,000 students enrolled at the Rocklin main campus/Roseville center and at campuses in Grass Valley and Truckee, California. Enrollment includes an estimated 750 veterans, 1500 LGBTIQ students, and 600 AI/AN students. In recent decades, the region has experienced explosive growth in population and noticeable increases in ethnic diversity. Student ethnicities include: Black (4%), AI/AN (3%), Asian/Filipino/Pacific Islander (8%), Hispanic-Latino (12%), White (70%) and other (3%). In a Fall 2013 survey of Sierra College students, 25.2% reported experiencing stress to the point where grades suffered, followed by anxiety (15%), depression (12.2%), alcohol (4.8%), and drug use (4.8%). In addition, 6.4% reported self-injury, 12.4% seriously considered suicide, and 3.1% attempted suicide. Regrettably, four Sierra College students have died by suicide in the last four years, including a veteran and a LGBTIQ student. In an effort to address student need, the program’s proposed objectives and strategies include: 1) enhancing employee awareness of mental health and substance use disorders that can lead to suicide by providing flex workshops, training, and online training/resources; 2) expanding student peer-to-peer resources, including a “Train the Trainer” program for Peer Leaders and a for-credit class to train future Peer Mentors; 3) increasing student awareness through Peer presentations and online resources, e.g. Kognito; 4) enhancing parent and community awareness by sharing information at Parent Nights/Orientations and by offering “Mental Health First Aid” training; 5) Strengthening network infrastructure by creating a Mental Health Council and expanding the Mental Health Advisory Group of community partners; and 6) strengthening internal infrastructure by developing District and campus-specific policies and protocols for Crisis Response and its aftermath. Each year and thereafter, the program will serve approximately 3000 individuals through training and online resources. Anticipated outcomes include: earlier identification of distressed students, increase in help-seeking behaviors, improved access to appropriate College and community resources, and ultimately, fewer suicides and suicide attempts.