University of Kentucky – Lexington
University of Kentucky Increasing Networks for Campus Awareness of Suicide and Emergencies (UK-IN-CASE) seeks systematically to create a safer and more caring campus community, to assist those at risk for suicidal behavior, and to support those who are concerned about the welfare of members of the community. This project will be accomplished by using a public health model, which expands on current campus practices to create a systemic program of suicide prevention and postvention that integrates service, policy, and referral networks.
UK-IN-CASE will more closely tie efforts between Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and the university’s Medical Campus. UK-IN-CASE will expand current prevention and gatekeeper training efforts, increase awareness and availability of mental health services to students, and better link the various means by which students access support and mental health resources at the University of Kentucky (UK). The goal is to reduce both direct and indirect population risk while also sealing the cracks in high-risk or critical cases by improving appropriate referral, treatment, and followup. Suicide prevention efforts at UK, which have been led to date by the Counseling and Testing Center, have garnered substantial interest and commitment from both university leaders and front-line departments in developing solid partnerships and a more systemic structure for managing critical student incidents, mental health emergencies, and suicide.
Major aspects of the program include the following:
- Campus network and policy development in which a campus advisory group will be formed with representation from over 15 campus departments, offices, and academic units and eight community consultants, with the goal of creating a comprehensive, regularly assessed and evidence-based campus suicide prevention plan
- Health communications and stigma reduction that aims to utilize social marketing and educational programs to educate students, their families, and community members, and decrease stigma and encourage help seeking
- Gatekeeper and clinical training that seeks to expand gatekeeper training so that it is systematic in targeting specific populations of students, faculty, and staff, and to ensure that campus professionals and students in professional programs receive appropriate clinical training.
Evaluation and data collection efforts will aid in providing evidence of whether grant activities are furthering best practices.
The project currently enjoys the support of multiple campus partners and university administration at the highest levels, as well as community partners who are committed to creating a systemic suicide prevention program at UK. The goal is to help our community “in case” of emergencies such as suicide, the type of event which no one on campus ever wants to happen. With increasing campus networks, campus policy, communications and clinical services create a caring campus community that will likely have ripple effects on regional mental health and suicide prevention.