Call for Help

Our Work

UHS Suicide Prevention promotes positive mental health among students and prevents suicide through collaborative, campus-wide efforts to:

  • Strengthen practices and policies relating to suicide prevention and mental health services
  • Reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues by providing education to the UW-Madison community
  • Promote help-seeking behaviors among our students

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What is prevention?

Prevention is the active process of creating conditions and/or attributes that promote the well-being of people. UHS Suicide Prevention engages in an upstream approach to suicide prevention. We work to enhance individual and environmental protective factors against suicide. While it is easy to think about suicide prevention as responding to those in immediate crisis, our work is focused at a population level.

We recognize that change is complex, and rely on making strong partnerships which move toward identified goals. The most effective suicide prevention strategies are holistic and engage a diverse set of stakeholders to work on individual, community and systems-level interactions.

Our prevention efforts are informed by the Socio-Ecological Model which considers the interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors. Factors at one level influence factors at all other levels. It is necessary to act across these multiple levels of the model at the same. Research shows that this approach is more likely to sustain prevention efforts over time than a single intervention.

Suicide Prevention Council


Launched in 2013, the purpose of the Suicide Prevention Council is to serve in a collaborative, campus-wide working group to address suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts at UWMadison. Guided by best practices in the prevention and mental health fields, this group identifies, aligns, and implements, strategic goals and activities at UWMadison, and includes future considerations and emerging trends. It follows an ethic of “changing the campus culture” around mental health issues.


The council offers a multidisciplinary, cross-sector perspective for campus and community partners to work collaboratively towards the common goal of suicide prevention. While University Health Services (UHS) serves as the campus hub for mental health, suicide prevention, and well-being initiatives across campus, these efforts are stewarded rather than “owned” by the health service. UHS convenes and facilitates the UWMadison Suicide Prevention Council in a campus-wide process by creating infrastructure for stakeholders to come together, working to build consensus, collaborating with campus and community partners, and sharing resources broadly.

This approach ensures that no single department need fully finance or staff any initiative in its entirety and recognizes that multiple campus units possess the expertise and influence necessary to achieve desired outcomes. Collective Impact, the name given to cross-sector commitment to a common agenda and the collaborative process used to address entrenched social problems, is the model we use to address pressing mental health issues at UWMadison.

UHS Suicide Prevention can work with campus and community organizations interested in hosting educational events, planning awareness campaigns, or promoting suicide prevention. Contact for more information or if you are interested in serving on the council.

The Campus Program Framework

The Campus Program

The UWMadison Suicide Prevention Council signed on to participate in The Campus Program in August 2015, indicating a four-year commitment to the process. The Campus Program is a nationwide initiative of the Jed Foundation (a national nonprofit aimed at youth suicide prevention) designed to guide colleges and universities through a process of assessment, planning, and systems, program, and policy enhancement over four years.

The Campus Program Framework

Efforts of the council are framed around the following nine core areas of focus identified in The Campus Program to ensure a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention and promoting positive mental health on a college campus.

  • Policy, systems, and strategic planning
  • Develop life skills
  • Connectedness
  • Academic performance
  • Student wellness
  • Identify students at risk
  • Increase help seeking behaviors
  • Promote mental health services
  • Means restriction and environmental safety


Distributed across the nine areas of The Campus Program framework are 120 benchmarks that the UW–Madison Suicide Prevention Council is focused. There are three scoring options for each benchmark. The scores are assigned via a collaborative process involving students, staff, faculty, community partners, and Jed consultants, and demonstrate the progress that UW–Madison has made since signing on to The Campus Program.

UW-Madison will take part in three assessment opportunities: 2015, 2017, and 2019. Results from assessments in 2015 and 2017 are in the table below.

Assessment Year 2015 2017
Meet benchmark,focus on sustainability 82 95
Meet benchmark,gaps/opportunities for enhancement 21 19
Do not meet benchmark,significant gaps or barriers,

possible alternative benchmark

17 6

Campus & Community Partners

  • Dean of Students Office
  • McBurney Disability Resource Center
  • Multicultural Student Center
  • Office of Student Financial Aid
  • Academic Advising
  • Academic deans
  • UWMadison Police Department
  • Morgridge Center for Public Service
  • Student Representatives
  • Instructional staff
  • Student Health Insurance Plan
  • Center for the First-Year Experience
  • Center for Leadership and Involvement
  • Employee Assistance Office
  • The Parent & Family Program
  • Veteran’s Administration
  • WI DHS: Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
  • Community stakeholders