University of Maine, Orono

University of Maine
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

The Touchstone Suicide Prevention Program provides suicide prevention for all 12,000 students of the University of Maine, a rural Land and Sea Grant College in Orono, Maine. Faculty, staff, and students will be trained to identify and intervene with students at risk. Web-based assessment, education, referral, and electronic communication will lower the barrier to service for students at risk while facilitating access to mental health and other University resources.

Two primary goals underlying all aspects of the Touchstone Program are 1) to reduce barriers to services and resources and 2) to promote both help-seeking behavior and engagement by students at risk or in need.

Primary activities will include: 1) Training ten percent of faculty and staff as “gatekeepers” capable of identifying, intervening and referring at risk students to professional health care providers and other university resources; 2) Selecting a group of students to participate in a class and receive training to become Touchstone Peers. These students will be trained as “gatekeepers”; work to decrease stigma associated with mental illness and help seeking; and help to shift the campus climate by increasing student engagement, belongingness and 3) Integrating web-based technology and electronic communication as a means to lower barriers and promote access to mental health services and information.

When building the Touchstone Suicide Prevention Program, we took into account that students who are engaged are less likely to attempt or die by suicide than those who are isolated and marginalized. Therefore, the Touchstone Suicide Prevention Program integrates crisis intervention with efforts to engage students who would not otherwise be engaged.