Tech Sends Delegation to Suicide Prevention Conference
Five Georgia Tech staff members attended a conference last month focused on improving strategies and interventions around suicide on college campuses.
The Building Suicide Safer College and University Communities conference, held at Middle Georgia State College, invited staff from public and private universities to share best practices and discuss ideas to better serve students.
“It’s not a surprising reality, but it’s amazing how many schools have had to deal with suicide attempts or completed suicides on their campuses,” said Dean of Students John Stein, who attended the conference and served on two panels. Stein was joined by Ruperto Perez and Lacy Currie from the Counseling Center, Shannon Croft from psychiatry, and Robert Connolly from the Georgia Tech Police Department.
One panel Stein participated in discussed building and sustaining a campus coalition, where he shared some of Tech’s initiatives in recent years to build a network that educates students and faculty on suicide. The other panel discussed successes and challenges in suicide prevention, specifically how to sustain focus, momentum and involvement in the ever-changing environment of a college campus.
Perez served on a panel about targeting and supporting at-risk and vulnerable populations in suicide prevention, where he specifically spoke about LGBT students; other panelists addressed veterans, graduate students and international students.
Throughout the conference, Perez was struck by the increased coordination of efforts and communication at many institutions.
“It seems that campuses have implemented more formalized avenues of communications, similar to our own Students of Concern Committee,” Perez said. This group meets weekly to discuss student issues, needs and intervention.
Stein and colleagues also discussed how to use technology to reach and educate faculty and students, and how to sustain funding and interest in an issue that has no end point.
“We remain committed to addressing this issue and see the importance of it,” Stein said. The Counseling Center recently received approval and funding to increase and enhance its service to students.
The conference was sponsored by the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Georgia and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities’ Suicide Prevention Program.