University of Southern Maine

USM Cares
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

The University of Southern Maine suicide prevention program, USM CARES, will provide broad-based suicide prevention initiatives for the three campuses (Portland, Gorham, and Lewiston Auburn). There will be three main initiatives targeting the approximately 9,000 traditional and nontraditional students. The three targeted areas will include building a Student Support Network, training for faculty and staff in suicide prevention, and web-based services. USM will implement a Student Support Program. This program will identify the natural student helpers and teach skills of early identification, knowledge of resources, and helping and communication skills. The component will enhance helping behaviors, promote student-to-student engagement, and reduce suicidal risk. It will also increase civility and build protective factors in the community. The program will focus on a number or affinity groups with special attention to the veteran student group and the GLBTQ community. The Student Support Program is based on the work of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is considered a National Best Practice.Faculty and staff will be trained to identify, intervene, and refer students at-risk to Counseling Services and other mental health care providers as appropriate. Two different trainings will be developed to meet the varying needs of participants. The goal of this training is to increase knowledge of suicidal risk factors and to increase intervention skills. Participants will also gain specific knowledge regarding the importance of engagement in building protective factors and reducing suicidal risk. The training model will be based on Maine Youth Suicide Program and University of Maine Orono training models. They were both previous recipients of SAMHSA grants.Web-based services will be expanded. The grant will focus on expansion of the internet-based Interactive Screening Program (ISP) currently in place. The goal of the ISP is early identification and self-referral of students not previously recognized as engaging in self-destructive harmful behavior. The component is considered a best practice and is supported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We will also create a separate website for USM CARES and included specific information regarding mental health issues for faculty and parents.Over the three year duration of the grant staff and faculty will be trained in 30 department meetings (10 per year), plus 130 staff and faculty receiving advanced training, ISP will be offered to all 9,000 students (at least 3,000 per year) and 150 (30 first year, 60 each year, 2nd and 3rd years) will be trained in the Student Support Program.