LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 17, 2010) — After surveying several groups on campus, The University of Kentucky Increasing Networks for Campus Awareness to Suicide and Emergencies (UK-IN-CASE) program will renew its focus on the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community and improved training for health professionals this year, during UK’s Midwinter Suicide Prevention Week from Feb. 21-25.
OUTsource assessment brings to light a campus group with unique needs
The nation has continued its struggle with the recent and disturbing trend of young people killing themselves after being bullied about their sexuality. Unfortunately, the spate of gay teen suicides this fall brought this population to the forefront.
At UK, GLBT students are far more likely to know someone that had attempted suicide or died by suicide, according to a spring 2010 survey sponsored by OUTsource and UK-IN-CASE.
Eighty percent of GLBT students know someone that had attempted suicide or died by suicide, compared to 60% of UK students chosen at random.
“We decided last spring that this was a group with special needs,” said social work professor and child clinical psychologist Julie Cerel. “I think that people don’t realize that their support systems are left behind in college, and GLBT students are especially vulnerable.”
To promote awareness, University of Rochester professor Vince Silenzio, a former colleague of Cerel’s, will be speaking at a free event focusing on Suicide Prevention, Sexual Minorities and Social Networking from 4-6 p.m. Feb. 21 in Room 206 of the UK Student Center.
Silenzio is a doctor, advocate and researcher in the area of suicide prevention among GLBT youth.
OUTsource actively works to train its new members to be prepared for every possible situation, according to director Erik Bentley.
“This type of training and information is a very valuable resource to have on campus,” Bentley said. “Any opportunity that we have to better OUTsource, we want to take that opportunity.”
Expert training for health professionals on the front lines
In another survey last spring, professional health students at UK responded that they weren’t receiving enough suicide risk training through their standard programming.
“This provided another opportunity for us to provide that extra assistance,” said Cerel. “Health students just need a different level of training, as do health professionals in the community.”
David Hanna, president of the Kentucky Psychological Association, will give an hour talk to medical and health science students, as well as a two-hour continuing education session for psychology and social work students and professionals on Feb. 25 focusing on assessment and treatment of a suicidal client.
“This is free clinical training for students of social work, psychology and education,” explained Cerel. “We’re meeting the needs of the university and the community.”
Events throughout the week
Other Midwinter Suicide Prevention Week events include a campus and community fair highlighting services and groups who help with suicide prevention immediately following Silenzio’s talk on Feb. 21.
Also, from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23 in the lobby of the William T. Young Library, the UK Counseling Center: Consultation & Psychological Services, UK-IN-CASE and the UK College of Medicine will be teaming up to provide free depression screening for students, faculty, staff and community members.
“The goal this year is to raise awareness on campus, especially for GLBT issues and to provide supplementary training for professionals,” said Cerel. “We’re continually looking at what’s worked and what hasn’t.”
Established in 2008, UK-IN-CASE is a federally funded suicide prevention project and joint venture of the College of Social Work and UK Counseling Center. Funding for the project is made possible by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
UK-IN-CASE works to spread awareness on UK’s campus and throughout the UK community of the problem of suicide and how to look out for each other.
For additional information on the depression screenings, please contact Tina Bryant at the Counseling Center at (859) 257-8701.
For more information on UK-IN-CASE, check out http://www.uky.edu/SocialWork/incase/ or contact Carrie Schurtz at firstname.lastname@example.org.