Southeast Participates in Summit to Discuss Suicide Prevention

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Oct. 4, 2006 – Officials from Southeast Missouri State University’s Center for Health and Counseling recently participated in the Suicide Prevention in Higher Education Summit in Columbia, Mo., hosted by Partners in Prevention, a coalition of 12 universities in Missouri.

The summit was designed to create a network dedicated to creating safer campus environments through the advancement of comprehensive plans for campus suicide prevention.

Participating from Southeast were Judy St. John, director of the Center for Health and Counseling; Kevin Stewart, Substance Abuse Prevention and Education; Linda Vogelsang, counselor; Dr. L. Randy Carter, coordinator of Judicial Affairs; and Sgt. Kenneth Mayberry, detective, Department of Public Safety.

Nationally, suicide ranks as the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 19. Suicides account for 1.3 percent of all deaths in the United States annually, but among youth ages 15-24, they account for 12.3 percent of the deaths annually. Given these statistics, suicide prevention is a critical issue for Missouri’s colleges and universities. In order to address the significant issue of suicide on campus, representatives from 12 public universities in Missouri participated in the Suicide Prevention in the summit last month.

Partnering agencies included the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Division and the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco.

Along with Southeast, other member schools participating were Central Missouri State University, Lincoln University, Missouri Southern State University, Missouri State University, Missouri Western State University, Northwest Missouri State University, Truman State University, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Missouri-Rolla and University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Through a grant from the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Partners in Prevention strives to encourage discussion on college campuses about the development, implementation, and maintenance of comprehensive plans for suicide prevention. Many of the colleges in attendance already offer counseling services for students and address suicide prevention throughcampus awareness activities.

However, a planning group, made up of psychologists and counselors from colleges acrossMissouri helped to design the Summit to strengthen campus efforts to address suicide. Laurie Davidson, from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, a national support center designed to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, served as the facilitator for the event.Campus coalitions and teams returned to their universities with plans to enhance existing programs and policies and create other opportunities to address suicide in the campus setting. Judy St. John, director of the Center for Health and Counseling at Southeast Missouri State University, said a Suicide Prevention Task Force has been formed which will conduct a strategic planning process to develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive plan for suicide prevention at Southeast Missouri State University. The task force attended the Suicide Summit in Columbia, Mo., St. John said.

“The strategic planning process will provide guidance to the Suicide Prevention Task Force in determining which campus policies must be reviewed, which programs will be enhanced and what areas need more education and assistance,” she said.

For more information about The Summit or Partners in Prevention, contact Joan Masters, coordinator of Partners in Prevention at (573) 882-4634 or MastersJ@missouri.edu. Visit http://suicide.missouri.edu for more details. For more information about the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, visit www.sprc.org.