Suicide prevention grant allows for initiative support, additional staff members

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    The university received a $243,982 grant that the Counseling, Testing and Mental Health Center will use to expand current suicide prevention programs, Eric Wood, assistant director of the Counseling, Testing and Mental Health Center, said.

    Two years ago, the university applied for a $250,000 grant with the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), but it was initially denied, Wood said.  SAMHSA reviewed the application again last year, though. Wood said this time around, SAMHSA decided to award the university with close to the amount originally requested.

    Wood said the Counseling, Testing and Mental Health Center began many suicide prevention initiatives after a student suicide two years ago, before even applying for the grant. 

    “[SAMHSA] recognizes that we were doing a lot of things already and wanted us to elaborate on those,” Wood said.

    Linda Wolszon, director of TCU’s Counseling, Testing and Mental Health Center, said the grant money will provide funding and technical support specifically meant to better the suicide prevention outreach initiative, the HOPE Initiative, to the campus community.

    A social media campaign is in the works, too, starting with a new website called “R U OK?” Wood said. The website provides both campus and nationwide resources about suicide and depression, as well as ways to help.

    Wood said Counseling, Testing and Mental Health Center directors had previously instructed about 700 individuals on campus on the Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) training program. The program uses both video and professional instruction for people to be able to decipher warning signs of a suicidal individual, and it explains how to help if faced with the situation. The Counseling Center hopes to use QPR to educate the entire campus on suicide prevention tactics.

    Wood said the grant money also allows for two new Counseling, Testing and Mental Health Center employees to be hired: a full-time outreach coordinator and a part-time graduate assistant. They will come on to help with not only suicide prevention, but with other relevant topics, including depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

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