L&S Community Support: Where Can I Find Information to Help a Student Who Seems to be in Distress?

L&S shares here an important memorandum circulated by the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and the Dean of Students, concerning how members of the university community (faculty, staff, and students) can learn more about suicide prevention and the tragic potential for suicide among students. The Dean of Students and University Health Services have made available "At-Risk Training" to help our community recognize signs of distress, and to know when to contact others or report concerns.

Several years ago, Professor Christopher W. Olsen (Interim Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Professor of Public Health) and
Lori M. Berquam (Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students) called our attention to an online, interactive suicide prevention program through University Health Services called "At Risk" to help our campus community address the sad and tragic potential for suicide among our students. They wrote:

"Every individual who works with college students will likely have an experience at some point where they are concerned about a student's state of mind or safety. In these situations, it is common to wonder:

  • What is my role in this situation?
  • How should I respond?
  • What if I say something that makes things worse?
  • How do I get this person to consider getting help?
At-Risk teaches faculty and staff how to recognize signs of distress, respond safely and appropriately, and make an effective referral to resources. All faculty and staff on our campus play a role in keeping our students safe and healthy. In order to best do this, we ask that you take one hour to log into At-Risk and complete this program.
  • 95% of UW-Madison faculty and staff who have already completed At-Risk would recommend it to their colleagues.  Personally, we've found it very helpful in providing guidelines to recognize, support and talk with students facing personal challenges.
  • At-Risk uses interactive conversation simulations with students, giving the participant options of what to say to the student and how to guide the conversation.
  • The full training takes 45 minutes to complete, but can be revisited any number of times.
  • At-Risk meets you where you are at in terms of your own knowledge and skill. You receive immediate feedback from the program about how to enhance your responses.
To access the At-Risk training program, please follow these instructions:
  • Click Link:www.kognitocampus.com/faculty
  • Click "Access Training"
  • Fill out form using enrollment key: wisc608
  • Follow on screen instructions
  • Note: No identifying information will be linked with responses in the program."

If you have questions or want more information, contact University Health Services at suicideprevention@uhs.wisc.edu.

Data on Suicide Among College Students
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students.
  • Last year, half of college students reported they have felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.
  • In Fall 2011, National College Health Association data revealed over 6% of college students reported seriously considering suicide. UW-Madison has more than 43,000 students, meaning that approximately 2,600 students on our campus have or will seriously consider suicide during their time in college. (Another way to think about this number is as the capacity of more than five full 747 airliners.)
Why should faculty and staff participate in At-Risk?
  • Counseling staff are not the first to see students in distress. In a national survey on college mental health, students were asked, "Who would you talk to if you were having serious thoughts of suicide?" A majority of students reported friends, mentors, or trusted adults including UW faculty and staff (non-mental health professionals).
  • Our UHS has resources and training to manage students in distress, but they need the support of faculty and staff members to help connect students with UHS.
  • During the past year, 63% of students who presented to UHS reported that counseling had a positive impact on their academic performance.
Reporting Students of Concern 

In order to assist our campus partners in reporting students who are struggling or may be at risk, we have an on-line incident report.  If you are unsure about a situation and would like to consult with someone in the Dean of Students Office, please call 263-5700 and ask for the Dean On-Call. Hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or email dean@studentlife.wisc.edu .

Keywords:advising, support for advisors, mental health, suicide prevention, reporting concerns, worry, help, self-harm   Doc ID:38883
Owner:Elaine K.Group:College of Letters & Science
Created:2014-03-31 11:46 CDTUpdated:2018-04-23 13:28 CDT
Sites:College of Letters & Science
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