ASC Takes as Stand AGainst Suicide With a New Grant

Courtesy Photo

Jose Orozo
The Paw Print

Suicide is something that many people have to deal with even if they do not want to. It is estimated that about every 20 minutes there is at least one person to commit suicide.
More men succeed at committing suicide, but more women attempt it. Depending on the source, suicide has been rated the eleventh leading cause of death. Colorado is rated as the sixth in the nation for highest rates of suicide. The San Luis Valley is rated to have 28 suicides out of every 100,000 people. There is some evidence to suggest that contributing factors leading to suicide are socioeconomic Status, rural environments, substance abuse, personality disorders, and, interestingly enough, altitude. The demographics that are most affected by suicide are veterans, college students, the gay lesbian bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community, and Alaskan Inuits. To address this major health issue, the legislature passed a bill in 2004 that offered federal funding for campus based suicide prevention programs. The bill is called the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA)The GLSMA started with a government official whose son committed suicide. The devastating event caused a nation wide movement to create successful suicide prevention programs.  One such program developed by Living Works, an agency from Canada, is the ASIST training program. This is the program that has been adopted by ASC, TSJC, and SLV Mental Health. To receive funding, stipulations must be met including offering training, developing outreach services, developing networks with health care providers, and undergoing evaluation of the program’s effectiveness.
Adams State College was recently awarded funding from this grant due to the high rates of suicide within the community. Adams State falls under the fifth cohort to receive funding along with 21 other colleges and universities. Gregg Elliot, the current chair to the suicide prevention program in the career and counseling center, said that the Virginia Tech incident was an eye opener and lead to starting new Mental Health care policies on campus. The policies focus on behavioral intervention and prevention strategies. The new program is a way for the to fill gaps that were being overlooked and to correct misunderstandings.
Elliot also talked about some irony around finishing the grant. Close to the end of the semester a former student was showing warning signs that there was something wrong. Several attempts were made to try and help this individual yet, beyond all attempts to help, the student committed suicide. “This truly was a tragedy that could have been prevented,” stated Elliot. “… with better training and awareness programs something could have been done to stop this.”
Part of the grant funding is being set aside to create a new position on campus with a primary focus on working with the campus to reduce suicide rates and integrate prevention for suicide. They will also be addressing high risk students with tendencies of suicidal behaviors and/or mental patterns. This position will host training programs on campus called ASIST, also known as the GateKeeper Training. Training will provide those who complete it the skill set to notice the warning signs of suicide and to what they can do to help.
Elliot is in the process of filling this position which is expected to be filled by, at the latest, November. The title of this position is Outreach coordinator and prevention specialist.
Several agencies within the local San Luis Valley community are working in collaboration to offer these trainings. Currently, Kristina Daniel of San Luis Valley Mental Health Center is in charge of the suicide prevention program for the community. Also Trinidad St. Jr. College, Valley Campus (TSJC) offers training in suicide prevention. As far as agencies on campus there is currently a Campus Health and Safety team. This team will also be headed by the new position when it is filled.
Elliot has already scheduled several campus based ASIST training programs through out the semester. The first one is scheduled for Sept. 22 and 23. Unfortunately, for those interested in signing up, this training has already been filled. Luckily, it has been filled with several school district personal that could really use the training. The second training will be held on Oct. 20 and 21. This session has already been filled as well. The last training of the semester will be held on Dec. 1 and 2. More trainings may be offered during the semester due to the high demand and quick filling of available positions for the trainings, but Elliot did not confirm that possibility. The cost of the training is $35 if taken with the campus group. This training can cost upwards of $300, so it is easy to see the value of having such an inexpensive program. If you have questions or would like to sign up for these trainings, contact Elliot in the ASC Career and Counseling Center for more information.
The typical training has positions for 20 individuals. These participants will be involved in a two day long intensive that will provide the individual with the necessary skill set to recognize warning signs of suicide, learn how to address the situation effectively, develop the listening skills that could prevent an occurrence of suicide, and learn about local outreach resources and networks for referral within the community. The class size is small because the training is meant to be engaging and the topics addressed can be unnerving. Discussion about the beliefs about suicide, what types of interventions work, and how to apply this knowledge are all covered during the two day workshop. There is a smaller version of the training that is to be offered that is only a three hour commitment instead of two full days. This smaller version is called Safe Talk and will give a basic overview of the ASIST program. This training will also provide individuals with the jargon used in the ASIST program and bring awareness of referral resources and outreach programs.
With the integration of these programs, there are high hopes that there will be a suicide prevention club that dedicates their mission to suicide awareness and prevention on campus. Until then, if you or anyone you know is interested in helping or needing help, there is the Campus Health and Safety team who’s focus is to address behavior interventions for those showing warning signs of suicide.
They are more than willing to give out out more information. There is a website for semi-anonymous referrals for concerned students and faculty. Their website address is This is a site that can offer assistance in response to concerns about any person.
ASC representatives would like to send out the message that “we do care! If we didn’t we wouldn’t work so hard to create programs like this.” If anyone needs a safe place to go and speak to someone Elliot is always available and can lead them in a helpful direction. He is also available just to speak to. Suicide is not something to be taken lightly and everyone can do their part to support each other and create a true community that does not exclude anyone. Everyone can make a difference, and every life is important. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet