Suicide prevention training recognized nationally

Student Health Services Suicide Prevention training

Thanks to the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Suicide Prevention grant awarded to Delta State in 2012, Student Health Services continues to make significant progress through its online suicide prevention training.

Katrina Taylor, mental health grant coordinator at Delta State, recently received news from training developer Kognito Interactive that the university’s “At-Risk for Faculty & Staff” and “At-Risk for University Students” programs came in as Top 10 implementers within higher education communities from across the nation.

“The programs have really helped train people so they know how to interact with someone who might be struggling,” said Taylor. “It teaches you to look out for a friend and bridge a gap to bring people together.”

The programs are available online to students, faculty and staff and help people learn to identify, approach and refer others experiencing psychological distress, including depression and suicidal ideation. The Kognito module utilizes a simulation and avatar-based learning environment that is implemented at more than 300 campuses nationwide.

Dr. Richard Houston, Director of Counseling and Student Health, said the grant has brought increased attention to a critical topic.

“The grant has really helped us cover two main objectives — first, increasing awareness of the issue, and second, increasing the number of referrals we are getting from students.

“The fact that Kognito is a national company and we ranked in the Top 10 shows that we have a lot more people trained than not trained.”

One way the program at Delta State has successfully bridged the gap is through a popular T-shirt that is given to those who complete the training.

“The tee shirt is an extra incentive that indicates someone has been trained, but it also shows people are looking out for their friends,” said Taylor. “The shirts get people talking about the program and have been really popular.”

Taylor added that networking with student leadership groups, Greek organizations and the GST orientation program for freshmen students has also helped build the training’s presence.

“We’re encouraging more faculty and staff to get trained, and we can also go to classrooms and computer labs on campus to train groups,” said Houston. “It’s all online and people can complete it at their convenience.”

Through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Suicide Prevention grant, Delta State will also provide educational seminars on topics that often are precursors to suicide. Additional information will be provided to parents and students on critical mental health topics, as well as promoting the National Suicide Hotline (1800 273-TALK). Concurrently, Delta State’s current crisis network and infrastructure will be more fully developed and strengthened.

For more information on training opportunities and how to get involved, contact Taylor at 662-846-4820 or

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