University of Puerto Rico - Cayey

Program Name:  University of Puerto Rico - Cayey
Grant Type:  Hispanic Serving Institution
Grant Status:  Alumni
Year Awarded:  2006
State:  Puerto Rico

The University of Puerto Rico at Cayey proposes a program to develop a comprehensive support network and college action plan for attending potential and serious cases of suicide. The focus of this program entails training through workshops and information materials for the campus body, in its informational aspect and a smaller number in direct services. Also, a comprehensive network strategy will be implemented through a crisis hotline and a referral program.

The UPR-Cayey, one of the 11 units of the Puerto Rico state university system, accepts only well-qualified students in the natural and social sciences, the humanities, education, and business administration. Although academically well-qualified, a large percentage of these students are academically unsophisticated. Many of them are first-generation college students, some from rural and semi-rural backgrounds, most of them low-income, and 90% from a seriously deficient public school system. This creates a situation of great stress for those who don't immediately catch on to the college environment. Although extensive formal studies have not been undertaken, the sample of those attended by the part-time psychologist indicates that there is a high rate of depression and incipient mental and behavioral health problems in the group that leaves and even in the group that stays. Although suicide has not been a problem, per se, among the college's student body, there is reason to believe that these conditions could easily lead to suicides later in life if these youngsters do not learn to deal with frustration and depression more effectively at this stage in their lives. One reason to think this is the very high rate of suicide, problem behaviors, and outright violence. Puerto Rican society, generally lauded for its human warmth, is also ironically characterized by one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption, domestic violence, homicides, and suicide under the American flag, and in some cases (alcohol consumption) in the world.

The project will be implemented over three years, beginning with a basic and direct approach, with training and preparation of inventories of resources, to the creation of more student-focused informational materials and more elaborate presentations, culminating in efforts to document success for institutionalization and replication. The expected results of the program calendar will be the guide to both process and outcome objectives to be assessed. The evaluation will include quantitative measures on how many individuals in each category were reached by the program's efforts and qualitative measures on how they react.