MASSACHUSETTS: Simmons College Course Prepares Future Social Workers to Address Suicide

April 29, 2016
News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
State:  Massachusetts

WBUR

Simmons College started offering a course on suicide prevention in its master’s in social work (MSW) program last spring. Developed by two of the school’s professors, “Understanding Suicide: Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention” is the first course on suicide prevention for social work students at a Massachusetts college. Only a few other colleges and universities in the U.S. offer a similar course. The course was developed because few MSW students (like other mental health and medical professionals) receive much or any training on working with people who may be suicidal. According to Joanna Almeida, course co-developer and an assistant professor of social work at Simmons, this lack of training results in “a lot of referring to the emergency room because clinicians don’t feel confident in their skills and ability to handle a suicide assessment. There’s a lot of fear and panic that happens when they’re told that they have a client who is suicidal.” To address this need, the course includes role playing to help students learn how to have conversations about suicide with their clients. The curriculum is being made available by Simmons to any other school that wants to provide it. So far, several other universities are offering it, and others have shown interest.

Spark Extra!  Access more information about the Simmons course, including the syllabus. 

Settings:  Colleges and Universities
Planning and Implementing:  Education and Training