UW receives national suicide prevention grant

The University of Wyoming received a national suicide prevention grant that will further suicide prevention initiatives on campus. UW was one of 19 institutions across the country that received the Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Campus Suicide Prevention Grant

The GLS Grant was created in 2003 in memory of Smith, an Oregon college student that lost his battle with mental illness. In a 2016 study done by Healthy Minds Study (HMS), 36 percent of college students reported having at least one mental health diagnosis. This grant was created to help those students that are at higher risk of suicide from losing their battle just as Smith did in 2003.

As stated on the GLS website, this grant was created in hopes for institutions of higher education to implement programs that develop a comprehensive, collaborative, well-coordinated and evidence-based approach to: (1) enhance services for all college students, including those at risk for suicide, depression, serious mental illness, and/or substance use disorders that can lead to school failure; (2) prevent mental and substance use disorders; (3) promote help-seeking behavior and reduce stigma; and (4) improve the identification and treatment of at-risk college students so they can successfully complete their studies.

“Mental health and suicide are important issues that impact not only individuals, but also families and communities,” said Lena Newlin, assistant director of the University Wellness Center and Half Acre Recreation Center. “Wyoming has historically ranked high in the number of people who die by suicide, and we currently rank third in the nation. Suicide is preventable and so this grant gives us the opportunity to dedicate resources to more effectively work to prevent suicide in a comprehensive way.”

The universities awarded the grant will receive a maximum of $102,000 per year for up to three years. This is an extremely competitive grant and is awarded nationwide to both private and public institutions of higher education. UW was fortunate enough to be awarded for the next three years, and will hopefully use the funds to make an impact on students and the atmosphere surrounding mental health on campus.

In a news release about the grant, Newlin says the target groups for this grant are those students and faculty at high risk of suicide such as military veterans, athletes who have had serious concussions and victims of sexual assault.

“[the university] will implement a comprehensive suicide prevention program that will work with individuals, the campus as a whole, and the broader community” Newlin said with regards to the new funding. “We are basing our program off of the Jed Foundation’s Strategic Planning Model, which includes identifying students at risk, increasing help-seeking behavior, promoting social connectedness, developing life skills, restricting access to potentially lethal means, providing mental health services, and following crisis management protocols.”

Such protocols will include increased trainings and screenings for high risk populations as well as promoting the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. A marketing campaign will be implemented as well to spread the word about new programs and continuing services.

For more information on this grant and its initiatives contact Lena Newlin at (307) 766-3418 or email lnewlin@uwyo.edu

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