Suicide Prevention 1

University Launches New Suicide Prevention Program

A Competent Community Initiative, a new federally-funded suicide prevention initiative officially launched at the University on Sept. 30, after a meeting with the leadership on campus on Sept. 26. The initiative aims to strengthen and broaden infrastructure to prevent suicide on campus.  

This initiative is designed to help young adults by strengthening their bonds with general health, mental health, and substance abuse services at the University, according to Scott. This is the second time that the University has been a recipient of the Garret Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant.  The award is worth $101,963 and will be renewable in three years, making the total close to eclipsing the $306,000 mark. 

The “Connect to Wellness: A Competent Community Initiative” is being led by Michelle Scott, Ph.D., Director of the SRF Suicide Prevention Research and Training Project in the School of Social Work. “The focus of that 3-year grant was training campus members, key campus gatekeepers, and on- and off- campus mental health providers as well as to develop public awareness messaging and programming regarding mental health challenges, suicide risk and help seeking,” Scott explained of the goals of the three-year grant.

“Identifying and helping students who are at risk for self-harm as a result of this stress could potentially save lives,” said Jaimie Goodwin-Uhler, Ph.D.   

Goodwin-Uhler, a specialist professor of psychology and counseling psychologist further explained the importance of suicide prevention programming “Programming and resources dedicated to preventing suicide among our students is essential,” stated Goodwin-Uhler. “Suicide remains one of the leading causes of death among university students, who are not only susceptible to all the mental health concerns of the general population, but who are also dealing with a time of great transition and, potentially, stress.” 

Suicide Prevention 2The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has been the main source of funding for the initiative. “Since SAMHSA began funding these grants in 2005, only 8 percent of campuses have ever received the grant a second time,” said Scott. “Receiving this funding not once, but twice is a true testament to the work of Monmouth University and the commitment Monmouth has to student mental health and safety.”

“The ‘Connect to Wellness’ grant will institute a variety of approaches to help address the mental health needs of students with additional attention to military-affiliated and transfer students. By improving the infrastructure of our campus services through early identification, screening, and online therapy assist programming, Monmouth hopes to increase access to services prior to the need for crisis intervention,” said Scott. 

“Being away from their usual support system, coping with academic demands and an uncertain professional future, navigating changes in relationships. All of these things can be experienced by students as at best, stressful, and at worst, completely overwhelming,” added Goodwin-Uhler.   

Jess Rodriguez, a senior psychology student said, “Being a psychology major, I have learned about several coping strategies and defense mechanisms to better understand how people react in certain situations.” 

“It has provided me with skills that can aid in suicide prevention, without considering myself a professional,” Rodriguez further explained. “Everyone has the power to reach out and help save a life–suicide prevention can be as simple as letting someone know you care and are there to listen.”  

Scott detailed the goals of each year of the initiative. “The first year of the Connect to Wellness initiative will focus on enhancing the communication between services and systems on- and off-campus and training key gatekeepers (such as residential life) and clinical providers in suicide risk assessment and management,” Scott started. “In the second year, in collaboration with the Institute of Health and Wellness, we will be developing the CONNECTWELLMU web-portal for all thing’s wellness for students, faculty and staff.”

Scott aims to build on the awareness of mental health and substance use each year with the hope that it will increase increasing help-seeking by students.

Suicide Prevention 3“Relatively speaking, college students have a lower rate of suicide than their peers who are not enrolled in college because they have a built-in community,” said Scott.  “However, campuses across the country are seeing a need to make changes to their mental health programming to help support students with anxiety and depression. Our work with this grant is focused on strengthening the community infrastructure to better support these students.”

Dean Gigliotti, a senior psychology student said, “Suicide is a difficult topic to discuss, and most of us try to understand why it happens.”

“We should focus more on unplanned, unexpected suicides before they happen,” Gigliotti continued. “Suicide prevention is imperative to help those who are contemplating it, or for those who know someone who is.”  

“Monmouth has a great support already in place in the form of Counseling & Psychological Services (3rd floor Student Center, x7517), which provides free and confidential mental health services to all enrolled students,” said Goodwin-Uhler.  “They are our number one resource when it comes to helping students with all sorts of difficult feelings.  However, those considering suicide may not always reach out for help, so the people in the Monmouth community — staff, faculty, and other students — are often the first line of defense in identifying people who might be in trouble and getting them to a place where they can be helped.”

“For somebody considering suicide, I would remind them of the fact that our emotions ebb and flow, and don’t last forever — as badly as you feel right now, it is unlikely you will feel that same way in a few months, or even a few weeks.  Please reach out to someone if you feel sad or hopeless.  They can serve as your anchor to the reality that your life is worthwhile, until you remember it yourself,” said Goodwin-Uhler.  

According to Scott, if you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately. If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).  For additional resources and training opportunities, please visit the SRF Suicide Prevention Research and Training Project website at”

PHOTOS COURTESY of Monmouth University