Gregg Elliott MA, LPC
Counseling Career Services
The American Association of Suicidology and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center publishes guidelines for responsible ways that newspapers can report on and discuss the topic of suicide. This is in recognition that responsible coverage can serve as a protective factor to readers who may be at risk of suicide themselves, and irresponsible articles have been found to increase the risk of suicide in readers. Obviously, glorifying suicide and printing directions on how best to kill oneself violate all of these guidelines, and Mr. Orozco’s article had no place in any newspaper, let alone a newspaper that serves a college community.
Adams State has a comprehensive program aimed at trying to identify students who may be at risk of suicide and at intervening with the student prior to a suicide attempt. A big piece of this program is providing training to students, faculty, and staff on how to recognize signs that a person may be thinking about suicide, engaging that person in talking about their feelings, and ultimately connecting that person with a mental health professional who can help them. This training, called Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is recognized as one of the best trainings available in suicide intervention skills.
Since the advent of Adams State’s Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant in August of 2011, the ASIST training has been offered four times, training 25 Adams State constituents and another 37 community members. All ASIST trainings, such as the upcoming training on April 24 and 25, are open to Adams State students.
The training Mr. Orozco referenced in his article was being arranged in an attempt to include members of the PRIZM club – Adams State’s gay-straight alliance club. The training was cancelled at Mr. Orozco’s request over his concerns that his club members would find the fee for the training too expensive.
Adams State donates over $1000 of staff time for each ASIST training that is offered by the Adams State trainers. The ASIST training routinely costs as much as $300 per person on the front range but in Alamosa, the ASIST trainers have always been committed to keeping the cost of the training as low as possible. There’s a $35 materials fee that covers the cost of the participant workbook and other items that have to be ordered by the training’s creator, Living Works, International, and that’s the only cost that’s passed on to workshop participants.
Working with our contacts at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in Washington DC, we were able to get permission to use grant funds to reduce the ASIST fee by $20 so that the training would only cost $15 per student. Mr. Orozco felt that no PRIZM members would register for the training unless it was provided free of cost, so that particular training was cancelled. However, students who are interested in participating in the April 24 and 25 training or future trainings should contact Laurel Carter at 587-7746 or email@example.com.
The Counseling Center will continue to try to find creative ways to help students, faculty and staff attend the training.
A piece of Adams State’s grant proposal to SAMHSA is to train as many ASC students faculty and staff as possible in the ASIST skills, and to promote a culture of reporting on campus that will help keep all of our campus constituents safe from suicide. My hope is that the Paw Print will abide by the AAS Recommendations for the Media in the future and that everyone on campus can work together to make Adams State and the San Luis Valley a suicide safer community.