University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Suicide Prevention Project
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Suicide Prevention Project aims to prevent suicide attempts and deaths within the UWM student population by establishing infrastructures for delivering and sustaining effective mental health prevention, screening, and treatment services. This will occur through policy development; training, screening, and referral activities; creation of educational materials; and enhanced mechanisms for student engagement.

The UWM Suicide Prevention Project will target all members of the UWM student community. Located in Wisconsin’s largest and most racially diverse metropolitan area, UWM serves over 30,000 students; 91% of UWM students are Wisconsin residents, and 33% are local to the county that encompasses the campus. The racial and ethnic diversity of UWM’s student body indicates a significant presence of distinct cultural backgrounds and needs; the student population includes 915 international students, 2,175 African Americans, 141 American Indians, 747 Latino/as, and 1,467 Asians. Moreover, the student community maintains significant populations of high-risk groups, including those that have been identified by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. UWM’s National College Health Assessment data reveals that UWM students experience an array of mental health concerns, with nearly 9% of students indicating that they had seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months. Moreover, as an institution of higher education located in Wisconsin, with a student population consisting largely of in-state residents, suicide-related patterns among UWM students likely mirror those seen at the state level; suicide rates in the state of Wisconsin are higher than those seen nationally, with the state’s highest rates occurring among college-aged individuals.

The UWM Suicide Prevention Project seeks to enhance the capacity of current support networks and to ultimately produce a campus community that is prepared to act proactively to address the mental health needs of all represented populations and respond effectively to students in crisis. Specific program goals are to 1) follow crisis management procedures on campus; 2) increase the ability of members of the campus community to identify students at risk; 3) increase help-seeking behavior among students in need of services; 4) provide mental health treatment and emergency services to the student community; and 5) promote the development and maintenance of social networks among students. These goals will be accomplished via efforts to 1) institute crisis management procedures; 2) provide continuing education and support for campus gatekeepers; 3) offer and promote screening and referral via web-based self-screening tools, campus-wide and targeted screening events, and screening and referral protocols for medical appointments; 4) develop and disseminate educational tools for students and their families; and 5) engage UWM students in campus mental health awareness and advocacy.