University of Arizona

University of Arizona, Campus Health Service
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

The University of Arizona (UA) Campus Health Service (CHS), in collaboration with a wide variety of campus and community partners, proposes a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy to reduce suicidal ideation, attempts, completions and related risk factors such as substance use and depression among UA students with a special emphasis on high-risk student populations (LGBTQ students, veterans, military family members, Native Americans). To reach this goal, the following objectives will be addressed: (1) Increase (10%) knowledge, comfort level and willingness to respond effectively to students with mental and/or behavioral health problems; (2) increase (5%) awareness and utilization of campus and community resources that can identify, assess and treat mental and behavioral health problems; (3) increase (5%) help seeking for mental and behavioral health problems; (4) decrease (5%) risk factors such as depression and substance abuse; (5) decrease (5%) suicide attempts and (6) institutionalize effective program components and disseminate information at the local, state and national levels.

Located in Tucson, UA is a large public institution (over 38,000 students) about 70 miles from the US/Mexico border. Over 35% of the student population is from an ethnic/racial minority with 3% being Native American. Significant problems of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and mental health issues among students have been documented on annual campus surveys since 1995. On the 2010 survey (n=2931), 40% had engaged in heavy episodic drinking in the past two weeks, 34% had used marijuana in the past year, 12% had used pain pills and 9% had used sedatives not prescribed to them. While 11% had been diagnosed with depression and 11% with anxiety, 25% indicated that anxiety or depression had made it somewhat or very difficult to work, study, go to class or get along with people. Data from UA Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) triage forms for 2010 indicates that 63% of students seeking services said they were depressed, 31% felt isolated/withdrawn and 70% said they had anxiety. These risk factors indicate the strong need for comprehensive suicide prevention on campus.

To address the objectives, the team will utilize gatekeeper training to 550 individuals/year, educational presentations and curriculum infusion to a minimum of 400 individuals/year and campus-wide efforts such as student driven activities and media (videos, posters, pamphlets, articles) with the potential to be seen by most students (38,000), as well as local, state and national dissemination (presentations, technical assistance and publications).

To evaluate these efforts, data will be collected on: (1) increases in knowledge, willingness and comfort to intervene among training participants (pre/immediate/3-month post); (2) increased utilization of resources (CAPS triage); (3) increased help seeking (annual campus-wide student survey, presentation pre/immediate posttests); (4) decreased risk factors and suicide attempts among the general student population (annual campus-wide student survey, campus suicide data) and (5) increased collaboration/dissemination at the local, state and national levels.