Social Work Reveals Suicide Research 4.20.17

School of Social Work Launches New Initiative

Suicide Prevention Research

Social Work Reveals Suicide Research 4.20.17

The School of Social Work has announced its new initiative to continue their efforts in spreading awareness about suicide prevention by launching the SRF Suicide Prevention and Training Project.

“This recent development is the latest in a long line of projects the School of Social Work has undertaken, but it is only the most recent one, as well as a culmination of a lot of efforts over the years.” said Janine Vasconcelos, Assistant Director of Professional Education and Special Projects.

According to Robin Mama, Dean of the School of Social Work, the project has several aims. It seeks to establish training sessions around the issue of suicide in schools and colleges, as well as curriculum development, research, and evaluation efforts on suicide prevention, intervention, and what happens afterwards.

The goals of the project emerged through research discovered by Dr. Michelle Scott, associate professor in the school of social work, who is considered a leading expert on suicide and suicide prevention. According to Scott, about 42,000 Americans take their own lives every year; this means a suicide occurs in America every 13 seconds.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students,” said Scott. “Individuals can be at increased risk for suicide when they experience a confluence of risk factors such as depression, anxiety, substance use, as well as prior suicidal behavior and a trigger event which may be a loss or transition,” Scott added.

The project is in its infancy and the school is presently in the process of building a “steering committee” to guide the effort. A number of individuals have been asked to join the committee; among their number is Katie Rizman, a counselor at Monmouth’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

“Mental health is a rising issue across the nation; suicide is the third leading cause of death for people aged 15-24.” said Rizman. “As of yet I’m unsure what role I will have on the project, other than my placement on the committee. As a counselor, part of my job is to promote suicide awareness initiatives. I think the project is simply about supplying students with an awareness of suicide prevention awareness, and to help them be advocates for suicide prevention.”

According to Scott additional funding for the present project came from suicide-prevention advocate and retired professor R. Scott Fritz, as well as the Palermo-Ravich Foundation.

“We hope to engage with campus and community partners to disseminate the best evidence-based practice knowledge and training so that everyone knows their role in protecting themselves and others,” said Scott.

Mama mentioned that some of the SAMHSA grant also went toward developing an app called PWR Monmouth University. “The app, when downloaded, gives people the resources to properly identify warning signs, as well as telling its users where to go to get them help and how to build mental resiliency.” Mama explained.

 Amy Doffont, a graduate social work student, explained her stance on suicide prevention. “On campus, the best way to go about it is to both spread awareness and advocate for individuals who either know or knew of someone who took their own lives,” she said.

According to Scott there are many ways to deal with the issue of suicide in America, but above all else those contemplating the act must know that no matter how bad things are, they are never truly alone.

“College campuses present many opportunities to protect individuals from suicide such as through the building of strong connections with others and by seeking help and support services when needed, from a friend, professor, advisor, or counseling, or health and substance abuse services,” said Dr. Scott.

“It is important to know that if anyone sees these risk factors in themselves or others to seek support and help either from one of these services or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1800-273-TALK,” Scott continued.

If you or someone you know is currently contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or seek assistance from Counseling Services.

PHOTO TAKEN by Alexandria Afanador