University of Wisconsin Madison

Suicide Prevention A Comprehensive Approach for UW-Madison
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

The University of Wisconsin Madison (UW-Madison) is a comprehensive teaching and research university offering programs at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels. Enrollment stands at over 42,000 students with over 7,000 of these students living in campus housing. The University Health Service provides integrated clinical, mental health counseling and consultation and prevention services to UW-Madison students. The Counseling and Consultation Services saw over 15,000 student visits in the last academic year. However, it is recognized that suicide is the second leading cause of mortality among college students. Further, it is widely acknowledged that many students experiencing depression and mental health concerns are not seeking the help that is available to them.

Because of a recognition that the University could do more to increase help-seeking behaviors among students with mental health concerns, staff within the University Health Services have submitted the present proposal to create a comprehensive suicide prevention program. To prepare this proposal, staff conducted a preliminary gap analysis of existing suicide prevention efforts using the Jed Foundation/Suicide Prevention Resource Center model. The program would support Project Director to coordinate the grant activities and would be supported through in-kind contributions from clinical, mental health counseling and prevention staff within the University Health Services. The major goals of the proposal are as follows:

  • Build the infrastructure to convene and sustain a campus/community Suicide Prevention Partnership Council.
  • Establish a sub-committee within the Suicide Prevention Partnership Council to identify and implement evidence-based practices to reach out to high risk populations, such as American Indians/Alaskan Natives, LGBTQ students, and military service members and veterans to increase help seeking behaviors.
  • Research and implement evidence-based practice around preparing university gatekeepers to more effectively identify students at risk of depression and suicidal ideation so that they refer these students to appropriate assistance and care.
  • Establish and support a peer education program that introduces more student voices to promote mental health awareness, education and advocacy on the UW-Madison Campus.
  • Implement a social marketing campaign aimed at both reducing the stigma of mental health issues and also promoting health seeking behaviors among UW-Madison students.
  • Review and implement evidence-based strategies to target alcohol abuse prevention efforts toward those at greater risk of suicide and mental health concerns.