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New suicide prevention program to be headquartered at MU

The program helps individuals recognize risk factors and warning signs of suicide.

Nov. 27, 2012

Partners in Prevention, an alliance to prevent suicide across Missouri, announced a new suicide-prevention training program will be headquartered at MU.

Missouri Partners in Prevention took a model of a suicide prevention program that originated at the University of Central Missouri and made it available to every university in Missouri, Partners in Prevention senior coordinator Joan Masters said.

The program was successful on university campuses, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health asked Partners in Prevention to make the program accessible for every citizen of Missouri, Masters said.

The program is designed to assist individuals in recognizing risk factors and warning signs of suicide and responding properly, said Heather Hoeflicker, suicide prevention graduate assistant at the Wellness Resource Center.

“It was found that a surprising number of students reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year,” Hoeflicker said. “And of those students, 53 percent seek help from friends or family as a first option.”

Scott Perkins — project director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health and Missouri Ask, Listen, Refer funder — said he thinks funding suicide prevention programs is valuable.

“By providing funding for various programs, including MO ALR, we’ve been able to provide training opportunities for tens of thousands of Missourians,” Perkins said. “They are extra sets of eyes that can help spot the warning signs of suicide.”

MO ALR coaches faculty, staff and students how to approach someone who is suspected to be considering suicide. The program covers asking individuals, listening to answers and getting them assistance, Hoeflicker said. MO ALR is relevant to students, she said.

“Suicide prevention is especially important in the college setting, as it is the second leading cause of death for college students,” Hoeflicker said.

The program is ideal because of its simplicity, she said. MO ALR takes place online and requires about 20 minutes to complete.

Feedback for the program has been positive overall, Hoeflicker said.

“Students, faculty and staff overwhelmingly report that they are glad they have taken the program,” she said.

A number of consumers return to the program’s website after completing the program for the first time, Masters said.

The results so far are promising, Hoeflicker said.

“The results are showing what I hope to see,” Hoeflicker said. “Many of the participants are better able to recognize the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and they feel more comfortable approaching someone who they are concerned about.”

Anyone could help prevent suicide in his or her community, Perkins said.

“It’s not necessary that everyone be a counselor,” Perkins said. “That is not what these types of trainings are about. You don’t need to be an ‘expert’ to help save someone’s life.”

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