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LTE: Preventing Suicide on Campus

Suicide prevention is an important area of focus at UNH.  Dr. David Cross, Counseling Center Director, has offered numerous in-person trainings over the years to faculty, staff and students. The training has focused on identifying the warning signs but also recognizing the risk and protective factors for students in distress. In addition to providing ongoing short-term individual, relationship, and group counseling as well as consultations regarding students of concern, the Counseling Center provides in-person (academic year hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) same-day urgent services to students in distress; urgent services are also available via phone 24/7 at 603-862-2090. Additionally, the Adjunct Assistant Dean of Students, Denise Nelson, in consultation with the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) can require students to have a safety evaluation at the Counseling Center based on safety concerns reported by community members.

Importantly, peers have been shown to be the first people to whom students disclose suicidal thoughts (Drum, Brownson, Denmark, & Smith, 2009). Since Fall 2013, through collaborative campus funding efforts, UNH has offered the online suicide prevention program, Kognito. This program uses avatars to simulate conversations and has helped students, faculty and staff to gain and hone skills in identifying and referring students who may be at risk for significant emotional distress. In recent research studies (Albright, Goldman, Shockley & Spiegler, 2013), Kognito has demonstrated effectiveness in the following:  increasing participants’ competence and confidence in identifying risk factors; recognizing the warning signs for suicide in the college student population; having conversations about safety with students; as well as referring students to supportive resources both on campus and off campus. The expansion of the Kognito program is being funded by SAMHSA Garrett Lee Smith Grant. Taking the program can help you further support UNH students; to login, visit:   Remember, YOU CAN HELP™ at UNH!

This information was developed in part under a grant number 1U79SM062506-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies, and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS. 


UNH Campus Suicide Prevention Committee Co-Chairs

David Cross, Denise Nelson, and Sean Moundas

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