Wichita State University

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Garrett Lee Smith Campus

Wichita State University (WSU) is proposing a suicide prevention project whose purpose is to eliminate deaths by suicide in the University community through the development of an infrastructure of education, training, and dissemination of information to all faculty, staff, students and their families. WSU plans to create an environment in which mental health issues are not stigmatized, seeking help is encouraged and seen as a strength, and members of the campus community step in to prevent harm to each other. This will be accomplished through the development of collaborative networks, innovative marketing campaigns, gatekeeper training programs, and educational programs. Although all members of the campus will be included, this project will work to provide targeted programs and outreach to students at particular risk including those who identify themselves as LGBTQ, military veterans, first year students and those living in campus residence halls. Particular attention will be paid to students who are often marginalized including those who are minority students or have mental health disabilities.

WSU is a public state university with an enrollment of 14,550 students. It is located in the largest city in Kansas, Wichita. The University is primarily a nonresidential campus with nearly 93% of students living in the greater metropolitan community and is considered the most ethnically diverse public university in the State of Kansas. The need for comprehensive suicide prevention efforts is clear from data derived from University participation in national health surveys and information regarding suicide rates in the surrounding community. In 2012, surveys indicated 7% of students had seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months. Even more concerning, nearly 10% living in the residence halls and over 10% of freshmen had seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months. The county in which the University resides has consistently higher rates of suicidal behavior than the national average as well.

Six goals are designed to impact the entire campus as a whole by creating a permanent infrastructure change for prevention services as well as approximately 5000 persons directly over the 3 year project period. These goals are: 1) Establish a gatekeeper training program on suicide prevention and mental health issues, 2) Develop and regularly offer, both in person and online, educational seminars, 3) Develop a cohesive marketing strategy that reinforces the information provided in goals 1-2 and make resources available both in print and online forms so that all members of the University community know how to direct people in need to appropriate services both on and off campus, 4) Develop online and print educational resources for parents and families to supplement information received in person at orientation, 5) Develop a collaborative network of campus and community groups in order to more accurately track student suicide attempts and suicides, and 6) Develop a network including representatives of high-risk groups to inform and support our overall strategy.