University of Washington
Need help now?  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255
Need Help Now? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 1.800.273.8255

Husky Help & Hope expands UW suicide prevention

Husky Help & Hope expands UW suicide prevention

Counseling Center Director Ellen B. Taylor looks forward to expanded campus suicide prevention efforts under the SAMHSA grant to Forefront and the UW. Photo by Caley K. Cook

Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention and its University of Washington collaborators are gearing up for Husky Help & Hope, a comprehensive suicide prevention initiative for UW students. Forefront and the UW recently were awarded a $300,000/three-year Campus Suicide Prevention grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to make suicide prevention a public health priority across the Seattle campus.

“This will increase the campus community’s capacity to identify, refer and treat students at risk for suicide, and to align itself with national best practices and recommendations,” said Forefront faculty director Jennifer Stuber.  She and training director Sue Eastgard developed the grant proposal in conjunction with stakeholders across the campus including faculty experts in suicide prevention. 

Nationally, suicide is a leading cause of death among college students. One in ten report seriously considering suicide in the past year, and 2 per cent say they actually tried to end their lives. There’s no centralized tracking system of suicide deaths and attempts at the University of Washington, but students here face the same emotional and mental health challenges as their peers in national surveys. Most deaths by suicide are preventable with timely and appropriate support and intervention.

“The UW provides counseling and other services to students in need, but, until now we have not had the resources to implement a large scale prevention and education program like that promised by Husky Help & Hope,” said Ellen Taylor, UW Counseling Center director and assistant vice president of Student Life.

The Husky Help & Hope plan includes:Credit: Sarah Rothman

  • Training to help faculty, staff and student peer helpers identify students who are struggling, both in the broader student population and among high-risk groups (LBGT, veterans, Native Americans);
  • Suicide assessment and treatment trainings for graduate students who soon will become health professionals;  
  • Workshops for journalism students, campus newspaper staff and local journalists on responsible reporting of suicide;
  • Enhanced Web resources for students, parents, faculty and staff;
  • Partnership with student groups for mental-health promotion;
  • A multi-faceted review of campus programs and policies, and each HHH component;
  • A sustainability plan for migrating HHH initiatives into existing programs with ongoing technical assistance from Forefront.

“This is fantastic news for the UW,” said Educational Psychology Prof. James Mazza, Forefront affiliate faculty member and grant collaborator. “It provides money to develop and implement proactive strategies for identifying and intervening with young adults who are struggling with emotional issues and are experiencing suicidal thoughts. It also recognizes the need to educate and train the next generation of mental health care providers by incorporating suicide assessment, treatment, and management into the UW graduate programs that focus on the mental health needs of youth and adults.”

SAMHSA’s Campus Suicide Prevention Grant Program, authorized under the Garrett Lee Memorial Act, aims to help colleges and universities free their campuses from preventable tragedies of suicide. Twenty-one grants were awarded nationwide.