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Suicide prevention program prepares Badgers to help
Suicide, the second leading cause of death among college students nationwide, is a public health concern that, unfortunately, many do not know enough about.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is not immune to suicide or its contributory factors. Data taken from the University’s participation in the Healthy Minds 2015-2016 survey indicated that nine percent of students experienced suicide ideation in the past year, and 27 percent of students have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder in their lifetime. But suicide is preventable and these statistics can be changed.
Many students receive informal counseling and support from their peers. Forty percent of students at UW-Madison report they reached out to a friend for emotional help, and 29 percent and 20 percent received help from a significant other or roommate, respectively. This data reflects the important role peers play in suicide prevention. To further prepare and educate students about mental health and suicide prevention, University Health Services (UHS) offers a program called At-Risk, an online suicide prevention program created by a company called Kognito.
Megan Crass, a Suicide Prevention Program Assistant at UHS, says UHS often receives questions from students about what to do for a friend who is in distress. “The goal is that At-Risk will help them be better prepared,” says Crass.
The interactive module teaches participants about the “three R’s” of suicide prevention: how to recognize a student in distress, respond accordingly, and refer the student to the appropriate campus or community resources. Along the way, participants are asked questions and given individualized feedback. At-Risk employs relevant examples of social situations where a student may identify warning signs, and suggests potential ways to start a conversation. “The program is tailored to the environment the participant would encounter a student in distress,” says Crass.
The Healthy Minds data highlights that suicide is a more common issue than the typical college student may know, so preparedness and prevention are vital to making UW-Madison a healthy and supportive place. “We don’t think we’ll be in this situation until we’re in it,” says Crass. “Looking at statistics, we know it affects people more often than we think.”
Therefore, it is of the upmost importance that the student body is educated and able to contribute to a supportive and compassionate environment for students in distress. “[At-Risk] is a proactive approach and a good way to learn how to easily support one another, and in some cases, may even save a life,” says Crass.
To complete At-Risk, visit https://www.uhs.wisc.edu/prevention/suicide-prevention/at-risk/. Once registered, the program takes 30 minutes to complete. UW-Madison students who participate in the program by May 15, 2017 will be entered to win Amazon gift cards.
If you or someone you know has experienced thoughts of suicide or other mental health concerns, help is available.
UHS Mental Health Crisis Line: 608-265-5600 (select Option 9)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255