Social Work Suicide Prevention 1

School of Social Work Forms Suicide Prevention Program

The School of Social Work at Monmouth University has launched the SRF Suicide Prevention Research and Training Project, which will expand the department’s efforts to aid in the prevention of suicide.

A conference focused on youth suicide was held as the opening event for the program.

“The SRF Suicide Prevention Research and Training Project in the School of Social Work was created in January of this year after receiving funding from a private donor,” said Michelle Scott, Ph.D., an associate professor in the school of social work, and the Director of the SRF project at Monmouth.

This is the second SRF project in the Monmouth county area, according to Scott; the second is with the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County.

“The SRF project at Monmouth is a natural extension of the work we have done on campus with suicide prevention,” said Scott, who was the director of the Promoting Wellness and Resiliency on Campus suicide prevention program from 2012 to 2016.

The PWR program, funded by the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant funded by the federal government, was a suicide prevention project that focused on clinical trainings and public awareness efforts.

“The SRF project will be working to further the goals of the PWR initiative by working to train and educate individuals in suicide prevention, intervention, and posttension, while expanding our scope to include program development and dissemination, advocacy, and policy, as well as well as research for original discovery,” said Scott. “The SRF project has a community-based steering committee which will help integrate university social work resources and suicide prevention expertise with community needs.”

“The end goal is to prevent suicide,” said Katie Rizman, a psychological counselor in the Counseling and Psychological Services office, which offers free counseling to University students. Rizman is also a member of the project’s steering committee. “This will hopefully be accomplished offers free counseling to University students. Rizman is also a member of the project’s steering committee. “This will hopefully be accomplished through continued research, curriculum development, and dissemination and trainings.”

Social Work Suicide Prevention 2“Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24,” said Rizman. “As a clinical social worker and counselor at Monmouth University I am naturally interested in suicide prevention. However, as a member of the community and seeing the increase in suicidality in our youth I am interested in doing all I can to help.  I truly believe everyone has a role in suicide prevention.”

The project launched with an inaugural conference held on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at a DoubleTree hotel in Eatontown. The conference, co-sponsored by the School of Education and Social Work, as well as the Provost and Admission’s offices, was met with “overwhelming” interest, according to the Asbury Park Press; registration filled up quickly and led to the conference being held at the hotel to accommodate more attendees.

According to Scott, the conference was attended by over 300 people. Attendees included concerned family members, coaches, and members of the clergy, mental health counselors, and the sorority sisters of Alpha Sigma Tau, who volunteered to work at the event.

The inspiration for the conference came from Netflix’s popular series “13 Reasons Why”, which tackles youth suicide, and brought the topic into the spotlight when the show premiered in March 2017, according to Scott.

 “It was amazing to watch the national conversation regarding suicide shift from something that needed to be talked about to something that was being talked about,” said Scott. “But there was still an outstanding issue – “how to talk about it.””

Those attending the conference were there to learn about how media can affect suicide trends, and how certain coverage may motivate vulnerable individuals into attempting such an act.

“It is important for all individuals to learn when someone or themselves are at risk for suicidal behavior, and then know what to say and what to do if they recognize someone is at risk,” said Scott. “While we all shouldn’t be mental health professionals, we all have a role in suicide prevention.  That role shifts based on your level of clinical expertise or training.  The initial conference was for anyone who interacted with youth.”

According to Scott, the SRF project will host another conference in early 2018 to provide clinical professionals more in-depth information regarding suicide risk assessment and management.

“We hope it will be as successful as the first training,” Scott said. The program will also host a benefit concert at Pollak Theatre on Dec. 8, 2017. “The work for the SRF project will not just be off-campus education, but will be working to develop training opportunities for students across all disciplines.”

“If you are worried about a friend, or you yourself, then reach out to the counseling center and get their advice, or call the Nation Suicide Prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255,” said Scott. “We are very lucky at Monmouth University.  The Counseling and Psychological services are available to students and we have great collaborations with local mental health services to help students stay safe and continue to be connected to school.”

IMAGE TAKEN FROM the Asbury Park Press

PHOTO TAKEN by Nicole Riddle