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UW Receives National Campus Suicide Prevention Grant

November 29, 2018

The University of Wyoming is among 19 colleges and universities in the country that have been awarded the Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention grant.

UW’s Lifesavers Initiative received nearly $102,000 per year for three years, totaling nearly $306,000, says Lena Newlin, Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center assistant director. Lifesavers Initiative is UW’s comprehensive suicide prevention program. The grant proposal was submitted to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“Mental health and suicide are issues that impact not only individuals, but families and communities. It is important to be comprehensive and strategic in order to effectively address them,” says Newlin, who is the Lifesavers Initiative project director. “UW has been committed to working in the area of suicide prevention for many years and, now with additional resources from this grant, we are optimistic that we can make more of an impact.”

The UW Lifesavers Coalition is comprised of UW students, staff, faculty, administrators, community partners and service providers, and concerned citizens. Members meet monthly to collaborate, coordinate and discuss campus mental health issues, Newlin says.

The Garrett Lee Smith grant is in memoriam to Smith, an Oregon college student who lost his battle with mental illness in 2003.

Newlin says the grant will be to prevent suicide and suicide attempts among UW students with mental health and substance use disorders through comprehensive, collaborative and coordinated services, including education, training, outreach and support.

The target population includes UW students at high risk of suicide, including military veterans, athletes who have sustained concussions and victims of sexual violence; as well as UW faculty and staff members.

Newlin says continued suicide prevention education is needed because Wyoming, as a state per capita, ranks third nationally for individuals dying by suicide.

“We expect to serve 3,500 UW students, staff and faculty annually, and 10,500 throughout the lifetime of the grant,” she adds.

The structure of the proposed UW suicide prevention program includes:

-- Identifying students at risk, increasing help-seeking behavior, promoting social connectedness, developing life skills, restricting access to potentially lethal means, providing mental health services and following crisis management protocols.

-- Specific strategies include suicide and substance use screenings with high-risk populations, mindfulness and self-compassion trainings.

-- Relying on proven programs such as Sources of Strength suicide prevention and resiliency training; outreach programs; promotion of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and other local resources through a social marketing campaign; updating and communicating UW’s crisis response protocol; distribution of gun locks; and a coordinated care and referral system through the Lifesavers Coalition.

The grant will fund the salary and benefits of a 10-month professional project coordinator; trainings in the Sources of Strength, Mindfulness and Self-Compassion program; educational materials; a social marketing campaign and program evaluation.

For more information, call Newlin at (307) 766-3418 or email lnewlin@uwyo.edu.

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