Seventy campus counseling centers have been employing novel outreach strategies to help prevent suicide on their campuses, thanks to a federal grant program administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Since 2005, the Campus Suicide Prevention Program has granted nearly $9 million for campus suicide prevention efforts.
The grants range from $75,000 to $100,000 per year, with campuses receiving three years of funding.
Grantees can use the funds to train students and campus personnel on mental health problems, create infrastructures between institutions and health-care providers in the community, and provide educational seminars. They can also use the funds to create local suicide-prevention hotlines or to promote the SAMHSA-administered National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-TALK (8255). (See www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org).
APA and APA members who work in college counseling centers were strongly involved in this effort from the start, especially by bringing the problem of campus suicide to the attention of Congress, notes Jenny Smulson, senior legislative and federal affairs officer in APA's Education Directorate.
"Our members on campus played a significant role in raising awareness about this national issue, and helped to create awareness that college students are an important population to pay attention to," she says.
The next round of funding has not been set by Congress, but interested psychologists are encouraged to visit the SAMHSA Web site.