Mississippi State University

Grant Type:  Garrett Lee Smith Campus
Grant Status:  Active
Year Awarded:  2020
State:  Mississippi

The MSU It Takes a Community initiative is a new multidisciplinary program at Mississippi State University – Starkville designed to make suicide attempts and death by suicide a never event. Informed by the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and based off the SPRC’s comprehensive suicide prevention program, this new initiative aims to reduce suicides by 1. Increasing student connectedness and fostering belongingness; 2. broadening our mental health network by providing gatekeeper training to student leaders, faculty, and staff; and 3. creating new health and wellness initiatives aimed to help reduce suicidal ideation and encourage help-seeking behaviors. MSU is the largest university in the state of Mississippi with an enrollment of 21,883 students and growing. Although a majority of our students are from the state of Mississippi, 65 percent, we have a large number of out-of-state, 32 percent and international students from 80 countries around the world, 4 percent. Our campus is extremely diverse with 18.6 percent of students being African American and 28.3 percent affiliating with an ethnic minority group. The MSU Initiative has nine primary objectives based upon the SPRC evidence-based model. The project aims to 1. increase our ability to identify and assist students in distress, 2. increase student help-seeking behaviors, 3. provide evidence-based, effective care, 4. improve links between providers to ensure seamless transitions, 5. increasing connectedness, 6. teach new life skills and increase resilience, 7. reduce access to suicide means, 8. implement a postvention plan, and 9. utilize an evidence-based crisis response plan. The focus of the project will be building the infrastructure for a sustainable, evidence-based comprehensive suicide prevention program. Through this funding we aim to train at least 1,000 students, faculty, staff, and community members. We will also build a strong infrastructure through further development and validation of our gatekeeper training, developing a first year student course designed to teach life-skills and improve resilience, improving the mental health services offered on campus, and implementing service-learning opportunities designed to increase connectedness and reduce burdensomeness. Although the grant funding will last only three years, the focus of our initiative is to create a permanent and sustainable suicide prevention network at MSU aimed at making suicide a never event. The project is based upon the recommendations in the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, inspired by Zero Suicide, and takes advantage the SPRC’s evidence-based model for comprehensive suicide prevention.