The Texas A&M University Suicide Awareness & Prevention Project will expand its comprehensive, collaborative, well-coordinated approaches to reduce risk of suicide and substance-related death for over 70,000 TAMU students. SAPO will enhance prevention efforts to increase current the mental health outreach infrastructure, collaboratively address substance abuse, and proactively incorporate strategies to combat the impact of the pandemic.
The project will serve the 69,000 Texas A&M students on the main campus, as well as an additional 5,000 distance learners located at special purpose campuses. Texas A&M is a Tier 1 research institution with a student population that is 54% White, 22% Hispanic, 8% Asian, 3% Black, and 8% International Students. Texas A&M is consistently one of the top-ranking schools in the country for veterans. A&M is also home to the Corps of Cadets, a leadership training program that commissions more military officers than any other institution with the exception of the nation’s service academies. The estimated rate of college student suicides is 7.5 per 100,000 students. This equates to between 4 and 5 deaths by suicide per year. Due to the efforts of Suicide Awareness & Prevention Office (SAPO) in previous grant years, student’s deaths by suicide decreased to average 3 deaths per year. However, at the onset of the 2020 academic year, with 70% of classes offered through distanced learning, there have been 5 students who have died by suicide.
The Suicide Awareness & Prevention Office will continue to improve its campus-wide collaborative efforts to increase campus knowledge of mental health resources, increase identification of at risk students, and coordinate gatekeeper training programs like QPR and Kognito-At-Risk. In addition, the office will work to update and improve these efforts to account for the increased mental strain and safety constraints caused by the pandemic.
Project goals include expanding current outreach activities by creating additional suicide prevention programs and events with a focus on virtual activities, increasing campus knowledge of mental health resources, substance abuse, and pandemic resources, as well as coordinating campus resources to increase CAPS’s capacity to identify students at risk. Objectives also include partnering with the Health Promotions office to create substance abuse program materials and develop academic resources for faculty, staff, and students.
Over the life of the grant, 100% of the campus population will continue receiving information about suicide prevention resources with the addition of substance abuse resources. All SAPO outreach and training programs will be designed for both physical and virtual delivery. Through these efforts SAPO will more efficiently address students’ distress effects of the pandemic and strengthen its campus suicide prevention infrastructure.