University of Guam

University of Guam
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

The U.S. Territory of Guam is the largest island in Micronesia, a geographic region in the Western Pacific with some of the highest suicide incidence rates in the world, averaging 26 deaths by suicide per 100,000 population. The suicide incidence rate in Guam itself is approximately 16 deaths per 100,000, which is significantly higher than the U.S. mainland rate of 11 per 100,000. Nearly 60 percent of suicides in Guam are completed by youths and young adults below the age of 30.

In 2005, the University of Guam’s Isa Psychological Services Center applied for and received a three-year grant through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. This grant supported the creation of the I Pinangon Campus Suicide Prevention program, which has provided suicide prevention services to the university community, including students and their families, faculty, administrators, and staff. In 2008, Isa Psychological Services Center received another three-year grant through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act to support the enhancement, expansion, and institutionalization of campus suicide prevention services through a variety of infrastructure development strategies. Since the inception of the grant in 2005, I Pinangon has reached over 7,000 participants from the university community through gatekeeper training, mental health screening, and other outreach events.The program addresses student suicide risk through six activities: 1.Further development and institutionalization of training programs for student leadership and university personnel to respond effectively to students with mental and behavioral health problems that can lead to suicide and suicide attempts; 2.Institutionalization of a networking infrastructure linking the university with community-based mental health care providers so as to enhance the university’s ability to provide culturally competent mental and behavioral health services to students; 3.Expansion and institutionalization of an educational seminar series providing information on suicide prevention, risk factors, help seeking, and stigma reduction; 4.Further development and promotion of linkages to Guam’s local crisis hotline and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, including integration of these hotlines into the university’s crisis response plan; 5.Further development of informational materials that address suicide warning signs, risk and protective factors, appropriate actions to help students in distress, symptoms of depression and substance abuse, help seeking, and stigma reduction in a manner congruent with the cultural and linguistic characteristics of the target population6.Further development of informational materials designed to educate students’ families about suicide risk factors and suicide prevention