University of South Alabama

Garrett Lee Smith Campus

The JagConnect program at the University of South Alabama (USA) is designed to address the needs of the more than 15,000 students, faculty, and staff through a multi-level, public health approach to suicide prevention. The program aims to establish a sustainable infrastructure that results in increased access to mental health services for those at risk for suicide by promoting mental health treatment resources and increasing knowledge and awareness about suicide risk factors in students, faculty, and staff. Despite the availability of mental health services at USA, suicide specific approaches that could increase the awareness and utilization of these services amongst those at risk or in crisis is limited in many ways.

First, suicide prevention, mental health services, and help-seeking promotion activities are currently fragmented across multiple offices, resulting in an unclear focus, an unknown impact of these efforts, and very limited information about the mental health needs of the campus. Second, campus mental health providers communicate very little and practices vary widely. In fact, there is no campus protocol to facilitate effective risk assessment, clinical management, and crisis response and there is no system in place to identify, monitor, and evaluate suicide attempts and death by suicide on campus. Third, current educational seminars and information campaigns that promote suicide prevention and mental health help seeking are limited and the current culture among USA students is predominantly negative towards professional mental health help-seeking. Lastly, there has been no systematic attempt to train USA students, faculty, and staff to identify, recognize, and respond to suicidal individuals. To address this need, the JagConnect program will implement a number of programs. A suicide prevention working group will be created to establish crisis protocols, cross-site clinical management strategies, and a monitoring system of suicide attempts and deaths by suicide. A social marketing campaign will be developed to create a culture of help-seeking and promote referrals of students at risk to mental health treatments. Educational seminars will be designed to increase knowledge, awareness, and self-efficacy for suicide prevention. Lastly, QPR gatekeeper trainings will help to increase the recognition and referrals of students in distress. Within these activities, three subpopulations of students will receive focused attention: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals, veterans, and gun owners. Each activity will be rigorously monitored for effectiveness and will be modified as needed to suit our campus. By increasing awareness and access to mental health treatment resources on and off campus through multiple activities, our impacts will be broad enough to deter any future suicide attempts or deaths on our campus.