Oregon State University – Cascades will use a new $305,000 suicide prevention grant to develop programs at the branch campus to support student mental health and to identify and respond to students who are at risk for suicide.
The campus was one of 15 universities nationwide to receive a 2014 Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people in the U.S. aged 18 to 25. Depression is a leading risk factor for suicide and a common problem that can interfere with a student’s ability to have a productive college experience.
The grant project will be co-led by Susan Keys, Ph.D., an associate professor and senior researcher in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences and Linda Porzelius, Ph.D., head of personal counseling services, both at the branch campus.
“This grant could not come at a more propitious time,” Keys said. “The funds will help ensure we have important systems in place for mental health support as we welcome new students beginning in 2015.”
The grant will also support the creation of web-based suicide prevention information for students; faculty, staff and student training in suicide prevention; and student projects that encourage fellow students to live healthy lives, seek help when they are experiencing stress and to reduce the stigma associated with asking for or receiving help. An additional focus will strengthen connections between campus services and those available in the community. Grant collaborators include public, private and non-profit health and mental health providers.
“For some college students, balancing school, work, relationships and family while planning for a career can be overwhelming. Educating our campus community on how to identify these students and referring them to supportive services could be lifesaving,” said Keys.
Keys joined OSU-Cascades in 2013. She has been a professional advocate for youth mental health for more than 30 years. Her experience has included leading national programs in suicide prevention and youth violence prevention for DHHS and serving as chair of the counseling department at Johns Hopkins University. She chairs the Deschutes County Suicide Prevention Advisory Council. Keys is also a consultant for the state of Oregon’s youth suicide prevention grant program.
Resources to assist students in need are currently available on campus and within the community. National online resources include ReachOut.com, a mental health and information service for teens and young adults, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).