Lawrence receives SAMHSA grant for suicide prevention

Erty Seidel

At the beginning of this month,
Lawrence University received a
$300,000 grant from the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration dedicated to outreach
programs related to stress
and suicide. The money will be dispersed
over three years in amounts
of $100,000 each year.
According to Kathleen Fuchs,
director of counseling services, studies
completed in 2006 and 2008
showed a high level of stress among
Lawrence students. Concerned,
counseling services applied for the
grant. “We want to make sure that
the students who need help, get
help,” said Fuchs.
The grant is defined broadly. The
first year’s allocation will go toward
determining what programs will benefit
Lawrence students the most.
SAMHSA consultants and Lawrence
staff will work with Lawrence students
to find the best mix of outreach
programs.
One such program is “Gatekeeper
Training,” or training of student
leaders to be more accessible todepressed and stressed students. “Training people to be good listeners,” is one goal of this program, Fuchs elaborated. Students will see the most direct evidence of the grant during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, when the programs are implemented.
Although the specific forum has not been chosen, counseling services will soon be looking for student input into the allocation of the grant. The project is designed to be a community effort, less about individual counseling and more about community outreach.
“There’s a stigma about mental health,” said Fuchs. “We want to make it more comfortable to let others know.” With this extra financial boost, the counseling office will be able to more effectively reach out to overwhelmed and depressed students over the next three years.
SAMHSA awarded a total of $6.3 million to 22 schools, most of them larger universities. “Nearly a quarter of a million students in colleges and universities each year attempt suicide,” said SAMHSA acting administrator Eric Broderick on the SAMHSA Web site. “This national tragedy demands a strong pro-active approach – reaching out to all those at risk with information and services that give real help and hope.”
The funding was initiated by Congress in 2004 and has been allocated to colleges that show the most promise in their grant proposals. “We’re fortunate, as a small school, to have been included,” said Fuchs. “This is an exciting opportunity. This grant will allow us [access] to resources that we otherwise would not have, especially in the current economic climate.”
Students curious about the grant can contact Fuchs in the Landis Health and Counseling Center. SAMHSA information is available online at http://www.samhsa.gov/. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK.

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