FGCU 'Suicide Awareness and Intervention Effort' program aims to save lives
The Banner - 3/14/2018
Florida Gulf Coast University is collaborating with several Florida universities and college counseling center clinicians in a state initiative to strengthen suicide awareness and prevention efforts on campuses.
The Suicide Awareness and Intervention Effort Initiative aims to effectively educate students on how to identify and intervene when someone exhibits suicidal behavior.
A key component to the initiative is the alliance of mental health professionals across many state campuses.
The schools participating in this initiative are FGCU, Florida State University, Florida Atlantic University, New College of Florida, University of Florida, University of Miami, Florida International University, and Florida Institute of Technology.
These clinicians believe that a collective effort, composed of both staff and students, is the best way to reach out to others.
Student focus groups were essential in providing data and feedback before the program began development.
Most participants encouraged the creation of a website and mobile application to provide support and education.
While the program is led by clinicians, students will have an active role in designing content, such as choosing a mascot, name, and logo.
Julie Rego, FGCU's Director of Outreach and Prevention, says the initiative is in its early stages of development. Rego is leading the initiative and is board president of the Florida Southwest Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
She said the program's main obstacles are time and finances.
FGCU also has a Suicide Prevention and Awareness Committee, composed of staff form Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Prevention and Wellness, Adaptive Services, Student Health Services, and the Dean of Student's Office.
Shortly after Hurricane Irma, the committee hosted the Jordan Porco Fresh Check Day in which students and their peers engaged in interactive activities.
The event worked to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health while encouraging others to seek help. After attending an event, the Jordan Foundation found "91 percent of students felt more aware of available resources, 90 percent of students felt more prepared to help a friend, and 79 percent of students felt more likely to seek help if experiencing distress."
The school previously held an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). Participants were taught proper identification and intervention skills.
The same attendees will join in a half-day SafeTALK Training for Trainers (T4T) workshop.
After attending both ASIST and T4T, the certified staff and students will be able to conduct SafeTALK training sessions on campus and in other communities. SafeTALK, led by LivingWorks, is designed to help participants identify a person with suicidal thoughts and connect them with the resources they need.
They currently have more than 2,500 registered trainers around the world.
The university will also host its fourth annual Out of the Darkness Campus Walk on March 20.
The walk has previously drawn hundreds of participants to raise awareness and possibly save lives.
Members of the community are encouraged to register for the event online: .AFSP.org/FGCU.
They may choose to walk as a team or individually, volunteer for the event, or donate. Donations will be accepted on June 30. All funds will support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Out of the Darkness Campus Walk
When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 (walk begins at 7 p.m.)
Where: Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd. S, Fort Myers