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New SAMHSA Grant to Enhance Suicide Prevention Efforts on USF Campus

USF Campus Suicide Prevention Program  Goals:

  • increase the number of persons involved in suicide prevention efforts
  • enhance the existing campus suicide prevention crisis plan and resource directory
  • reduce barriers and improve attitudes toward suicide prevention amongst campus leaders across departments, administrative offices, and student-led organizations and groups
  • develop a campus-wide suicide prevention marketing plan
  • increase the quantity/quality of culturally competent prevention trainers
  • increase distribution of suicide prevention materials (e.g. NSPL resources)
  • increase family involvement in suicide prevention
  • increase the number of students identified by prevention activities
  • improve the quantity/quality of professional assessments of students

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded a three-year, 306,000 grant to the University of South Florida (USF) as part of their Campus Suicide Prevention Grant program. Under the direction of Marc Karver, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at USF, CFS’s Stephen Roggenbaum will serve as Training Coordinator & Co-Principal Investigator. The USF Team (listed below) will build upon university and state level resources and programs to enhance the existing university infrastructure and capacity to deliver and sustain effective mental health and substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2008 young adults age 18 to 25 were more likely than adults age 26 to 49 to have had serious thoughts of suicide (6.7 percent vs. 3.9 percent). The statistics underscore why prevention of substance abuse and mental illness – including suicide prevention – is the first of eight strategic initiatives that are guiding SAMHSA’s work through 2014, according to the agency’s website.

The funding, including an additional $306,000 match from USF and the community, will enable USF to better identify at-risk students through gatekeeper trainings, refer and link students to services through the Students of Concern Assistance Team, and train mental health professionals to assess and manage suicidal risk in students.

The USF team will strategically engage and work with various departments and centers such as Psychology, Social Work, Health, Wellness Centers, and the Joint Military Leadership Center as well as with non-profit community mental health agencies. Efforts will focus on preparing the campus for the identification of at-risk students by putting protocols and systems in place to effectively respond to at-risk students. Gatekeeper training will also be deployed to identify at-risk students and an appropriate resource network will be established to respond to referrals.

“Community and campus prevention efforts can have a positive impact on suicide prevention,” said Steve Roggenbaum, who also serves as a Gubernatorial appointment to Florida’s Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council. “Part of those efforts are to ensure everyone knows the warning signs so that we can all reach out to those who might be struggling. The SAMHSA grant will allow USF to ensure our students know how and where to seek help for themselves or others.”

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