Athens State University has been awarded a $10,000 Alabama Higher Education Suicide Prevention Program grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health. According to Dr. Vanessa Miller, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Athens State, the grant will be used to focus on the following areas:
- Training students and campus personnel to respond effectively, making referrals to those students and campus personnel that are in crisis, and continuing to offer and build Gatekeeper resources on the Athens State University campus
- Implementing a comprehensive screening and referral system for Athens State students using BH-Works
- Developing and implementing a Suicide Response Plan at Athens State University
Raising awareness and increasing discussion on the topic of suicide is essential to confronting the issue head-on. The grant's purpose is to increase the identification of students at-risk, increase help-seeking behaviors, and start conversations on campuses to promote the overall emotional well-being of students. Dr. Miller will be managing the project along with two other individuals who have been contracted to support in managing the tools, reporting, and referrals.
A portion of the grant will be used to bring the BH-Works platform to Athens State. BH-Works is a web-based screening tool that is used to screen individuals who could be at risk for suicide. The tool screens for other risk factors associated with suicide such as depression, anxiety, bullying, etc. The tool provides immediate results that highlight high, medium, and low priority areas for the individual. The tool also allows counselors to input data about referrals to outside sources.
“Suicide prevention, education, and awareness have been expanding on the Athens State University campus for the past three years through grant support from the Alabama Department of Public Health,” said Dr. Vanessa Miller. “The entire campus community has begun to come together to support suicide prevention and awareness, mental health, and well-being of our students. The overarching goal of this work (supported now by three years of grant funding from the Alabama Department of Public Health) is to build a suicide-safer community at Athens State University by expanding our suicide prevention awareness program and mental health programs on campus.”
According to the Alabama Department of Health, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death among all Americans and the second leading cause of death among young (10-34) Americans. It can affect any age group, ethnicity, or race. Feeling suicidal can result from a variety of risk factors and personal conditions that combine to make a person feel hopeless and believe that it is impossible to change the situation. Anyone experiencing risk factors is encouraged to call the national suicide intervention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.