Suicide Prevention Initiatives
This aim focuses on studying systems and building the necessary infrastructure (community partnerships) to implement programs and initiatives through needs assessments and formal and informal memorandums of understanding (MOUs) across several settings (e.g., universities, behavioral health organizations, hospitals, advisory boards, state-level entities). Building the needed infrastructure involves identifying needs at different system levels and providing any needed education, technical assistance, and support to these suicide prevention advocates in an attempt to create a united effort and facilitate the integration of programs and initiatives into community infrastructure.
The IDCN is a sustainable network of individuals and organizations who disseminate and implement evidence-based suicide prevention interventions. The IDCN has collaborated with the State Office of Suicide Prevention (SOSP), the University of South Florida (USF), the University of Central Florida (UCF), the Florida Council for Community Mental Health (FCCMH), and advising committees to network with community organizations on implementing program efforts.
Across several projects, advisory boards have been created to work in a similar fashion as the IDCN. However, these are much smaller, focused groups of specific individuals who could provide valuable contributions to conversations on suicide prevention efforts in their community. For example, on a campus-wide project, an advisory board of students was created to inform student mental health needs on campus. This particular advisory board was so popular, it had the opportunity of becoming its own, fully-recognized student organization at the University of South Florida (USF). Other advisory boards developed on state-wide projects include stakeholders within these individual communities. These are comprised of individuals with enough influence in the community to enact change.
Needs assessment evaluations are developed via a very rigorous and selective process where the desired constructs are measured through a series of specific questions that "tap into" that construct. These needs assessment evaluations are eventually distributed to populations of interest within a particular community. For example, on a campus-wide project, needs assessment surveys were developed for students, faculty, and staff to assess their knowledge on mental health resources on their campus and their beliefs on mental health and suicide prevention. Results from these needs assessments eventually served to guide suicide prevention efforts on a particular project, such as this campus.
A Life worth Living (ALL) is a student organization, established approximately two years ago, that hosts mental health and suicide prevention awareness efforts on campus. ALL is one of the most active mental health organizations on campus with well-over 100 online members. The organization has been involved in fundraisers for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), has worked on major projects organizing a Title XI presentation and screening of the It Happened Here college sexual assault documentary, and was even one of the contributors during the first Survivors of Suicide Night at USF which is now a university-wide tradition.
Taskforces have also been established across serval projects to ensure suicide prevention initiatives are implemented. For instance, on our current state-wide grant we have the Youth Data Surveillance Taskforce in partnership with the SOSP. This taskforce is responsible for identifying all departments, organizations, and agencies within the State of Florida that collect youth mental health data. The idea is to aggregate all these systems of data into one database used across all entities to better ensure the state's mental health needs are being met and to identify any "gaps" in the system where improvements can be made. Another example of a successful taskforce is the Campus Suicide Prevention Taskforce established at USF on our campus-wide grant. This taskforce grew out of an initial steering committee comprised of university leaders who could provide feedback on the best ways in which to implement initiatives on campus. This steering committee was so successful, it grew to become its own taskforce, inviting other leaders and representatives to the table. This taskforce's goal is to eventually host their own suicide prevention social awareness campaign on campus.