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Island University Receives $260,000 Grant to Implement Suicide Awareness and Prevention Program

August 05, 2016

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the University Counseling Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi are the proud recipients of a $260,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant will help to implement the Suicide Awareness Focuses on Everyone (SAFE) program on campus. The program, scheduled to begin on Sept. 30, 2016, is designed to increase suicide awareness and prevention on campus.

Lead writer of the grant was Dr. Pamela Greene, Assistant Professor of Nursing, with key assistance from Dr. Theresa Sharpe, University Counseling Center (UCC) Associate Director. Also assisting in the project was Dr. Carla Berkich, Executive Director of the UCC, and Claudia Ayala, UCC Assistant Director.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for our campus,” said Greene, who will be the SAFE program director. “Preventing suicide and suicide attempts is a passion I have pursued for much of my career. I’m not sure how to put my excitement into words.”

The SAFE program aims to build an infrastructure and comprehensive plan to support expanded efforts to promote mental health, wellness and resiliency for students including those at higher risk for suicide such as LGBTQ students, veteran students and students experiencing substance abuse and mental health problems. The program will also challenge the mental health stigmas that interfere with at-risk students seeking the help they need.

“We hope to increase the recognition of individuals who are in distress and expand the understanding of what to do when you encounter someone who is suicidal,” said Greene. “We want everyone to know there are resources available to them.”

SAFE will also implement programs to help train University students, faculty and staff to recognize when someone is in need of help.

“Over the lifetime of the grant, we plan to train 3,500 students and 450 faculty and staff in suicide awareness,” said Greene.

Many members of the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi community came together to help write the SAMHSA grant proposal, including grant writer Sheryl McMillan, and retired Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in Nursing Education, Dr. Eve Layman. Greene says she’s grateful for the support received for this initiative.

“I have felt a huge sense of collaboration ever since I came to A&M-Corpus Christi in 2015,” said Greene. “I’m very excited to work with my colleagues to implement this new program. Working together we can save lives.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 15-24 years, and the second among persons aged 25-34 years. For every completed suicide, it is estimated there are 25 attempts. Often, attempts are not reported.

To learn more about the University Counseling Center and their available resources, visit http://counseling.tamucc.edu/.