Module 1: What is Comprehensive Suicide Prevention?

Introduction to Comprehensive Suicide Prevention for Campuses

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Hello! We’re here on behalf of the Campus Suicide Prevention Center of Virginia. If you aren’t already familiar with our office, we serve all institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth by providing education, consultation, training, and resources to prevent suicide and promote emotional well-being among all members of the campus community. Our services are free of charge, so please contact us.

We’re here to support you!

Today, we want to talk with you about planning for comprehensive campus suicide prevention and why you should consider doing this for your campus.

What would a campus with zero suicides among students look like?

It would be a campus dedicated to promoting mental health and emotional wellness among all of its students, not just identifying and treating those in distress.

It would be a campus where we think about and plan for future crises, rather than reacting to situations and challenges as they occur.

It would be a campus where every student feels safe, valued, and included, and as a result, can focus their attention on growing academically and personally as well as contributing to the good of the community.

It would be a campus where all offices and groups work together, communicate with one another, and have a common mission of caring for those in its community. From residence life to financial aid, academic affairs to campus security, public relations to the counseling center, the registrar’s office to campus ministry, and health services to student organizations – every office, organization, and individual has a responsibility to contribute to a culture of emotional wellness.

It would be a campus where students learn how to create lives worth living.

Does that sound like the kind of campus you want to be a part of? We thought so.

Then we probably have some work to do.


What does “Comprehensive Suicide Prevention” mean?

Comprehensive Suicide Prevention is a combination of many strategies to prevent and respond to suicides effectively. There are nine areas of a comprehensive suicide prevention plan:

  1. First, a campus must be ready to Respond to Crisis.
  2. Second, a campus must Increase Help-Seeking.
  3. Third, a campus must be equipped to Identify and Assist students in distress.
  4. Fourth, students seeking formal services should be provided with Effective Care or Treatment, shown to reduce suicide risk and address other related mental health concerns.
  5. Fifth, students seeking services from multiple providers should be supported during Care Transitions.
  6. Sixth, whenever possible, we must Reduce Access to Means someone might use to end their life.
  7. Seventh, if a suicide does occur, we need a good Postvention plan in place so that we can reduce the risk of contagion to other members of the campus community.
  8. Eighth, we also want to strengthen the emotional well-being of the entire campus by proactively building the Life Skills and Resilience of all students.
  9. And finally, we want to increase the Connectedness of everyone on campus to build a healthier community.

Why should campuses put in all this effort to prevent suicides if suicides on campus are relatively rare?

  1. While rare, no campus community wants the heartbreak of losing one of its members to suicide.
  2. Recent surveys have shown that self-injury, as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors, are steadily rising among college students.
  3. Students struggling with these behaviors are likely to drop out.
  4. Alternatively, when students receive the support they need, they are more likely to complete their degree, report greater satisfaction with the institution, and are
    more likely to support the school as an alumnus. Supporting emotional well-being is an investment well worth making for institutions of higher education.
  5. Just as important, this work helps create a campus culture dedicated to caring for the emotional well-being of all students.

How do we learn more?

As shared above, these videos, notes, and worksheets are designed to walk you through the process of putting these components into place on your campus.

Each video and worksheet is designed to be short to break this enormous task down into bite-sized pieces.

Videos are designed to stand on their own and you can watch them in the order that best fits your campus needs and available resources.