October 14, 2013

The University of Washington, in collaboration with Forefront, has been awarded a three-year, $300,000 suicide-prevention grant to launch Husky Help & Hope--a comprehensive suicide prevention initiative at the Seattle campus. Forefront is a newly minted UW-based center advancing innovative changes in public policy, training, school programs and media approaches to suicide prevention and mental health. Forefront partners include the College of Education, School of Social Work, School of Nursing, Department of Psychiatry and Department of Communication.

Forefront founding directors, Assistant Professor of Social Work Jennifer Stuber (pictured, left) and Forefront Executive Director Sue Eastgard (pictured, right) developed the proposal in conjunction with stakeholders across the campus including faculty experts in suicide prevention. The grant, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will increase the capacity of the campus community to identify, refer and treat students at risk for suicide, and keep campus policies and programs in line with national best practices and recommendations.  

“This is fantastic news for UW because the grant provides money to develop and implement proactive strategies for identifying and intervening with young adults who are struggling with emotional issues and are experiencing suicidal thoughts,” said Educational Psychology Professor James Mazza, a Forefront affiliate faculty member. “In addition, the grant recognizes the need to educate and train the next generation of mental health care providers by incorporating suicide assessment, treatment and management into the UW graduate programs.”

Nationally, suicide is a leading cause of death among college students. One in 10 say they seriously considered suicide in the past year, and two percent attempted to end their lives. There’s no centralized tracking system of suicide deaths and attempts at the University of Washington. However, students here face the same emotional and mental health challenges as those in national surveys. Most deaths by suicide are preventable with timely and appropriate support and intervention.

“The UW provides counseling and other services to students in need, but, until now we have not had the resources to implement a large scale prevention and education program like that promised by Husky Help & Hope,” said Ellen Taylor, UW Counseling Center director.

For more information, contact Sue Lockett John at 206-919-9677.