College of Charleston

Program Name:  College of Charleston Suicide Prevention Program
Grant Type:  Campus
Grant Status:  Active
Year Awarded:  2013
State:  South Carolina

The goals of the CofC suicide prevention plan are to decrease suicides, suicide attempts and high risk behaviors such as substance abuse by increasing mental health and substance abuse awareness, increasing help seeking behaviors, increase campus and community capacity to identify and support students at risk for suicide, and improve case management of high risk students seen in counseling services or referred into the community. Currently there are approximately 11,000 undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students, with females 66% of the student body and 25-30% living on campus. Counseling and Substance Abuse Services at CofC recognizes that an increasing number of students coming to college nationally and at the college arrive with pre-existing mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The College of Charleston has had two suicides in the last year and eight known attempts, two overdoses and an average of 30 students per semester needing transportation to the local emergency room due to risk for alcohol poisoning, many drinking to compensate for feelings of loneliness and depression. Approximately 50% of students seeking services with Counseling and Substance Abuse services report suicidal ideation, and more students at the college report binge drinking, regular marijuana use, and use of other illegal drugs than the national average. Goals, strategies and interventions and measurable objectives include: 1) build community capacity to help prevent suicide through establishing a community consortium on suicide prevention, having annual conferences to include use of ASIST and SafeTalk skill building, expand our volunteer crisis services such as Peer Counseling, to the Lowcountry’s College Community, and assess change in student mental health and high risk behavior using the National College Health Assessment annual survey; 2) strengthen CofC culture to refer students with mental health or substance abuse concerns, create a policy guide for faculty and staff on how to refer, hold workshops for faculty each semester using ASIST or SafeTalk, and track any increase of faculty referrals of students in distress via FAST reports to DOS, CASAS clients seen each semester, and student contacts with Peer Counselors; 3) Decrease the negative stigma associated with receiving mental health services on college campuses, and increase knowledge of available on campus and off campus resources specifically the National Suicide Prevention Hotline through annual Mental Health Monologues and other projects that celebrate recovery efforts, mental health and substance abuse screening and awareness days, improving social media use and website development. Objectives will be assessed through annual tracking of numbers of individuals attending outreach activities, and 4) Hire a Case Manager to follow up with clients who have significant mental health needs and who were referred out to the community. The Case Manager will: track 100% of students referred to on or off-campus mental health or substance abuse providers/programs, and CASAS students at-risk for suicide.