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PC Awarded Federal Grant for Suicide Prevention

Providence, R.I. – June 8, 2017 – Providence College today announced that they have been awarded $101,998.00 in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Grants by the Center for Mental Health Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is the first time this grant has been awarded in RI. PC will establish a comprehensive, integrated wellness promotion and suicide prevention program, offering a full spectrum of preventative interventions. Titled “PC Lifelines: Promoting Human Flourishing at Providence College,” the multi-systemic range of strategies includes gatekeeper training (online and in-person), crisis response planning, family engagement, network building, mental health screening, community-building, promotion hotlines, and facilitating access to mental health services.

“Young people today face new challenges and we need new approaches and strategies to help prevent youth suicide,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. “I wrote the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act to help improve access to counseling for at-risk teens. And I strongly supported Providence College’s application for this federal grant because this proposal has the potential to save lives and serve as a model that can be replicated by other schools.”
“College can be a difficult time for young people learning to deal with the pressures of adulthood and separation from home,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Providence College will use this grant to help its students stay connected to community and family, make mental health treatment available to those who need it, and identify students in crisis before it’s too late. I’m glad to see how deeply PC values the mental and emotional wellness of its community.”

“This grant will enable us to do more outreach with students at higher risk and do more education with the whole college community,” said Jim Campbell, assistant vice president for student development and compliance at PC. “However, a particularly exciting aspect of the project is the development of a new ‘gatekeeper training’ program. We know that, nationwide, 80% of college students who have died by suicide never sought help in the college’s counseling center. Gatekeeper training is designed to empower students to identify others in early stages of distress and refer them for treatment. While there are other gatekeeper training models out there, we will be testing a new approach that we hope will enhance the effectiveness and could become a model for other colleges.”

A public health approach will be used to establish a new level of knowledge and understanding about suicide prevention for the entire community and enhance PC’s readiness to support those who are most susceptible. Individuals at high risk will be identified and supported; in addition, resources and access will be available to vulnerable groups. These initiatives and interventions will seek out those most at risk for suicide and most likely to experience disparities in access to health services. These include students with mental health challenges as well as students of color, Native American students, first generation students, LGBTQ students, international students, and veterans. The project will involve these groups as partners to build trust and to help develop suitable educational and intervention approaches. PC will engage persons from diverse backgrounds with lived experience to share their stories, model recovery, reduce stigma, increase help-seeking, and inspire hope.

This project will be implemented in partnership with off-campus organizations such as the National Association of Mental Illness/Rhode Island Chapter and the Rhode Island Department of Health. Providence area hospitals, mental health practices, and substance abuse clinics will be brought into the network of resources so that students can be offered coordinated and integrated care.

Founded in 1917, Providence College is the only college or university in the United States administered by the Dominican Friars. The Catholic, liberal arts college has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 3,900 students and offers degrees in 50 academic majors.  Since 1997, Providence College consistently has been ranked among the top five regional universities in the North according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.”