University Health Services and the Office of the Dean of Students are applying for the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant. This is a three-year federal grant funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support suicide prevention work in campus, state and tribal communities.
Lauren Oe, associate dean of students, explained the grant itself centers not only on suicide prevention, but also mental health and substance abuse.
“What the grant really focuses on is training and education for campus, early intervention and better opportunities for screening and assessment for students,” Oe said.
The Wellness Services Office does a lot of outreach and education around mental health and suicide prevention, according to Oe. “This grant would allow us to do things a little bit differently and bring in some different kinds of programs to help with that,” Oe said.
Oe explained the focus is on the students. “The grant would allow us to bring in some dollars to really help and bring some programs, implement new models and complement what we are doing in other areas to help out campus community,” Oe said.
Leslie Webb, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, explained they are hoping the grant helps with specific prevention around suicide and includes positive pieces that are around self-care and resource and referral.
Both Webb and Oe agree there is a connection between suicide prevention and mental and self care.
Oe wants the University’s efforts to emphasize messages of hope, strength and community to help individuals know that there are other answers to what they may be dealing with. The grant would help create a positive narrative around prevention as opposed to the common rhetoric which surrounds numbers of deaths, according to Oe.
“There’s been some great communication about being aware, being patient and being with each other,” Oe said. “I think if we continue to use that narrative and have a positive framework around it, that’s where we might be able to see some change.”