University of Utah

University of Utah
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

The University of Utah (UU) Counseling Center plans to address suicide prevention by accomplishing the following goals: 1) improving on-campus gatekeeper skill in risk assessment and protective factor referral making; 2) measuring efficiency and quality of protective factor referral making on-campus; 3) developing online materials for target populations that address warning signs of suicide, address specific cultural related issues, promote help-seeking behavior, and reduce stigma associated with care seeking; 4) developing online materials for families of UU students that increase awareness of risk and protective factors for suicide; and 5) increasing UU student awareness and use of protective factors available on campus.

Commuter students, students living on campus in Residential Living facilities, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT ) students are the target populations chosen, based on survey data culled from two separate survey instruments administered on campus during the past year. The data indicate that these populations have high levels of risk factors associated with suicide.

Methods of achieving our goals include: Activity 1) gatekeeper training; Activity 2) creation of uniform forms for tracking and making protective factor referrals; Activity 3) content development for online materials for target populations; Activity 4) content development for online materials for families of UU students; and Activity 5) a professional promotion campaign.

While there are well-established clinical and emergency protocols for UU students in crisis, the campus community currently has no uniform suicide prevention training or response protocol for service delivery offices on campus. This project will help fill this critical gap in services. The Counseling Center is well positioned to conduct this project, using previous outreach work and coalition formation as a foundation. In 2000, Counseling Center and Office of Health Promotion staff formed the Wellness Network (Network) by inviting over 20 campus offices, departments, and groups to meet on a regular basis. The purpose of the Network is to improve communication between departments that serve students and coordinate and share resources, so that services will be provided more effectively, and redundancies and gaps in services minimized.

The Network has enjoyed successful interaction over the past five years and supports this application and proposed activities. Network members include a comprehensive group of UU student service providers: Academic Advising, Associated Student of UU, Center for Ethnic Student Affairs, Counseling Center, Dean of Students, Disability Services, Health Promotion and Education, International Center, Learning Enhancement Program, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center, and many others.

With historical success and effective inter-office collaboration as its foundation, this project and its proposed activities will reduce suicide and suicide risk factors by increasing the availability and accessibility of protective factors for UU students.