Counseling Center to expand campus suicide prevention program

James Spivack, left, and Bruce Herman, right, are developing a new suicide prevention program at the Counseling Center.
James Spivack, left, and Bruce Herman, right, are developing a new suicide prevention program at the Counseling Center.

TOWSON, Md. (October 14, 2009) - With $100,000 in initial funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), TUís Counseling Center†aims to develop and implement a comprehensive and strategic suicide prevention program through improved and expanded educational and training programs and greater infrastructure capabilities. With this program expansion, the Counseling Center plans to increase suicide awareness and prevention among students, campus personnel and concerned individuals both on- and off-campus.

One goal is to provide more culturally comprehensive materials that will address an increasingly culturally diverse campus. Much of the work in the first year of funding will be focused on training a culturally diverse and sensitive support team and creating culturally competent education materials. Many students who may be at higher risk because of their race or sexual orientation may have greater difficulty in assessing resources, and/or current materials may not sufficiently address their unique symptoms and needs. Having resources and training that are sensitive to various cultural groups will enable involved students and campus personnel to better recognize warning signs and treat at-risk students more effectively.

Another important outcome of this grant will be the development of a referrals database of providers in the community and infrastructure to track at-risk students in the TU community. Today the task of referring someone to an appropriate provider is done manually. This is time consuming and may not effectively address cultural preferences when dealing with treatment. With funds provided from this grant, the Counseling Center will design and build a relational database that will link students who require extensive care to culturally competent, community-based providers.

SAMHSA will provide up to $300,000 over the next three years in support of the Towson University Suicide Prevention Program. The grant is under the direction of Drs. Bruce Herman, assistant director of outreach and consultation at the Counseling Center, and James Spivack, special assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs and Counseling Center director. For additional information, please contact them at 410-704-2512.

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