Western awarded $294,948 grant for suicide prevention

Western Today staff

Western Washington University has been awarded a three-year, $294,948 grant for the prevention of campus suicides from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“Western has created a culture of care, hope and commitment to wellness and emotional well-being. This funding will enable us to strengthen that message,” said Eileen Coughlin, senior vice president and vice president for Enrollment and Student Services at Western.

SAMHSA announced the grant award to Western on Sept. 30. The Campus Suicide Prevention Grant application was submitted by the WWU Office of the Senior Vice President and Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services with support from Research and Sponsored Programs.

Michael Sledge, assistant dean of students at Western, will be the project director and will work with a team of professionals throughout the university and the community, including students, staff and faculty, Coughlin said.

In recent years, Western has enhanced communication and outreach on prevention issues both on campus and in the community. This project will formalize and extend current efforts, with the goals of:

  • Developing messages and activities tailored to create a culture of caring where formal and informal support systems empower individuals to become involved in their own mental health by utilizing existing systems;
  • Collaborating internally and externally to improve opportunities for understanding, bystander roles, behaviors that place individual at risk, and options for referral;
  • Providing early interventions to address risk factors and encourage informal support systems which anticipate and respond before depression impacts action; and
  • Documenting and assessing clinical and programmatic efforts.

Project activities will directly address cultural issues that create barriers to prevention, initiate new activities, evaluate and assess efforts to make adjustments as needed to fit the needs of Western students and their families, and lay the groundwork for sustainability of suicide prevention activities in the future. Activities will focus on: educational seminars, outreach, and messaging (print and online) to reach students and their families; training for students and campus personnel; campus networks, community partnerships and promotion of hotlines; and reviewing and utilizing best practices.

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 12:36pm