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Cougar Health Services Anastasia Rarig

7 tips for talking about suicide

7 tips for talking about suicide

When the topic of suicide comes up, you may feel nervous or uncertain about what to say. You might even be afraid you’ll put someone at risk if you talk about suicide. But this isn’t true. In fact, talking about suicide, even if it’s just a short conversation, can encourage people who are at risk to seek help.

Research indicates that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. But it isn’t just the media that influences people who are at risk. Conversations and reactions to suicide by peers and community members can also impact people who are struggling.

At WSU, we want to encourage members of our community to get help when they experience thoughts of suicide or other mental health concerns. To make this happen, follow our tips below to ensure you’re talking about suicide in a way that is helpful.

  1. Offer hope by sharing about the many resources and treatment options available to people struggling with thoughts of suicide
  2. Share information about warning signs and encourage others to add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to their contacts
  3. Talk about mental health concerns as a normal, common experience and emphasize the value of getting help when needed
  4. Refrain from sensationalizing or glamorizing suicide
  5. Avoid speculating and sharing misinformation
  6. Avoid using dramatic or graphic language, including discussion of methods for death by suicide
  7. Educate yourself by seeking out information from suicide prevention experts

Do you want to take an active role in reducing stigma around mental health or learn about how you can support someone experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts? Sign up for our Mental Health First Aid workshop or Campus Connect.

These tips are adapted from Reporting on Suicide’s Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide.

Notice of Accreditation Survey

Washington State University, Health & Wellness Services

Survey dates: July 19–20, 2017

The above-named organization has voluntarily requested this accreditation survey as a means of having a third-party review of the entire organization to build upon strengths or identify opportunities to improve its delivery of safe, high-quality health care. The survey will evaluate the organization’s compliance with AAAHC Standards for ambulatory health care organizations and to determine if accreditation should be awarded to, or retained by, this organization.

Members of the general public, patients, and individuals on the staff of this organization, believing that they have relevant and valid information about this organization’s provision of health care or compliance with AAAHC Standards, may request to present this information to AAAHC surveyors at the time of the survey or may communicate such information in writing or by telephone to the AAAHC office.

All information received from identified individuals at or prior to the survey will be considered in making the accreditation decision. The information presented will not be debated with the reporting individual. Requests for presentation must be received at least two weeks prior to the survey in order to allow sufficient time to schedule presentations.

A request to present or report information may be communicated in writing by mail to the address below; email to feedback@aaahc.org; or by telephone as listed below.

Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc.

5250 Old Orchard Road, Suite 200

Skokie, IL 60077

Telephone: 847-853-6060

FAX: 847-853-9028

This Notice of Accreditation Survey is posted in accordance with AAAHC requirements, and may not be removed until after the survey has concluded, or until it has been posted for 30 days if the survey ends prior to that period.

Student insurance coverage improves

While prices rise all around us, there is good news for graduate assistants and international students: student insurance rates for next year are decreasing while providing more coverage.

The 2017-2018 insurance plan premium will be $1677 per year, a $183 decrease from last academic year. International students pay their own premiums and will therefore benefit from a direct reduction in their out-of-pocket expense. Graduate assistants’ premiums are paid by their department.

In addition to lower rates, both graduate assistants and international students will receive additional benefits in the 2017-2018 plan. We’ve increased reimbursement for brand name prescription drugs from the current 60 percent to 70 percent. We now cover vision exams in full at our clinic and up to $65 at other vision clinics.

Additionally, international students will now be able to purchase a Delta Dental insurance plan. Graduate assistants receive dental coverage as part of their standard plan.

We’ll post more information about the 2017-2018 plan and benefits on our website in July. Automatic enrollment for qualifying students occurs in the second week of August.

Do you have any questions about your insurance benefit? Please feel free to contact us for more information.

Suicide prevention training available online

Suicide prevention training available online

Research shows the majority of college students who choose to tell someone they’re having suicidal thoughts talk to a friend, roommate, or romantic partner.1 That’s why it’s critical to prepare WSU students to respond to someone in crisis.

As part of our broader suicide prevention efforts, we’re working to train as many students, faculty, and staff as possible through our Campus Connect program. Starting this summer, Campus Connect is available online through our partnership with Global Campus.

Online training gives every Coug access to reliable resources and information related to suicide, and establishes a permanent resource they can refer back to. Offering the program online also ensures that WSU students on campuses throughout Washington and all over the world have access to suicide prevention training.

Anyone with a WSU ID number can access free, full-length suicide prevention training online.  To attend, Campus Connect you can visit the Global Campus website. You can also request brochures typically provided during training.

Please note the activities in this training were modified to suit the needs of a virtual audience. Campus Connect is an interactive training and most effective in-person. Suicide is a challenging and highly personal topic and reactions to talking about issues surrounding mental health and suicide can vary significantly.

If you have more questions or concerns about this topic or training, please email Victoria Braun at Victoria.braun@wsu.edu

1. Drum, Brownson, Burton Denmark, and Smith, 2014 – “New Data on the Nature of Suicidal Crises in College Students: Shifting the Paradigm.” pg. 218

We’re adding more mental health training options

We’re expanding training opportunities for mental health and suicide prevention. By adding more facilitators and online trainings, we’ll be able to educate more Cougs!

We now have two Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) facilitators. Our MHFA classes are always full and we often have to put people on a waiting list. With two facilitators on staff, we’ll be able to train more Cougs how to recognize and assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

We’re working with Global Campus to make mental health-related webinars, like mindfulness and self-care, available online. And coming soon, our suicide prevention training, Campus Connect, will also be available online.

Providing online trainings allows us to reach more people, and establishes a reliable web-based mental health reference Cougs can refer back to.

Additionally, this fall we’re implementing a Campus Connect refresher course to ensure previous participants are up-to-date on best practices in suicide prevention. All returning resident advisors will participate in the refresher course, and new resident advisors will take Campus Connect training for the first time.

When we meet with returning resident advisors, we’ll discuss how they’ve used information from Campus Connect in the past year. We’ll talk about any struggles they experienced with implementing the material, and how we can improve our program in the future.

By utilizing different formats to deliver trainings, and increasing the number of trainings we offer, we’ll be able to train more Cougs, both online, and at the Pullman campus.

Viewing guide for “13 Reasons Why”

Viewing guide for “13 Reasons Why”

The new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”, a fictional story about a high school student who dies by suicide, has sparked many conversations about suicide and mental health. Recently, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about this show during suicide prevention and mental health trainings.

We’re really glad to hear community members talking about suicide and mental health. Talking about these topics in a caring and non-judgmental way helps create a culture that encourages getting help when you need it.

Like any dramatized account of mental health issues, it’s important to watch the show with a critical eye. If you’re thinking about watching, or have already watched, “13 Reasons Why”, here are some things to keep in mind.

Make a thoughtful decision whether or not watch the show. You may not want to watch if you’re experiencing, or have previously experienced, significant depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Consider watching the show with others. Discuss what you’re seeing and experiencing along the way.

Be mindful of how the show is affecting you. Stop watching if you find yourself feeling distraught or depressed, having thoughts of suicide, or having trouble sleeping. If this happens, talk about it with someone you trust.

Think about how you might make different choices than the characters. For example, it might be helpful to think through when and how someone could have intervened to help the main character. 

Suicide affects everyone. If you see or hear warning signs that someone is at risk of suicide, it’s critical to get help right away.

If you’re concerned about someone, talk with them openly and honestly. Asking someone if they’re having suicidal thoughts will not make them more suicidal or put the idea of suicide in their mind.

Counselors are professionals and a trustworthy source for help. If your experience with a counselor or therapist is unhelpful, look for another professional to talk to or seek out other sources of support, such as a crisis line.

Suicide is never the fault of survivors. There are resources and support groups to help survivors of suicide loss.

Care for yourself, your friends, and your family members. If you or someone you know is struggling mentally or emotionally, please get help. Getting support from loved ones and mental health care professionals can save lives.

We based these recommendations on guidance from the Jed Foundation.

Strengthening crisis response protocol

At our last meeting with the Jed Foundation, they provided us with recommendations for enhancing our suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts. Based on their feedback report, our top priority is collecting all relevant crisis response protocols in one comprehensive document.

Our ultimate goal is to establish a protocol that clearly communicates action steps for all WSU departments and personnel both during and after helping a student in crisis.

Many universities have multiple policies and protocols for different types of crises, but don’t have a single comprehensive protocol in place. We’re creating a unified protocol as a proactive step to improve cross-campus collaborative support for students who need help.

Right now, members of the Campus Mental Health Collaborative are reviewing WSU’s existing crisis-related policies and protocols to identify potential gaps. We’re also referencing other institutions’ response protocols, which the Jed Foundation and SAMHSA identified as examples of best practice.

Our final comprehensive response protocol is intended to cover situations such as student death, attempted suicide in progress, threats of harm to self or others, arrest or incarceration, disruptive behavior, and other crisis situations.

If you want to learn more about crisis response protocol development, check out the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s virtual learning lab where they cover how to write and review crisis protocols.

Pilot stress program helps over 150 Cougs

Pilot stress program helps over 150 Cougs

We’re helping over 150 Cougs lower their stress with our interactive pilot text message program. Every week we check in with students to see how they’re doing, then send them personalized tips for relieving stress.

According to National College Health Assessment data over the years, WSU students consistently report stress as the most common health-related factor affecting their academic performance. In 2016, 51.6 percent of Cougs said they experienced more than average stress in the past 12 months.

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the stress management texting program, and we’re eager to offer it to students again next year.

Moving forward, we want to collaborate with campus partners to increase the number of activities and resources to help Cougs lower their stress. And we’re exploring the possibility of creating a similar program just for graduate students.

We were able to provide the pilot stress management program with support from student technology fees and student activity fees.

Supporting health in the Greek community

Following their recent student-led moratorium, Greek leaders reached out to Health & Wellness Services staff for support and resources. Together we’re developing action plans tailored to each individual chapter to address public health concerns like violence, substance abuse, and mental health.

We worked with student leaders from individual chapters to survey their members and assess their attitudes and concerns around these issues. Over 2,900 Greek students responded to our survey on violence, and our survey on substance abuse is in progress.

After the surveys, our next step is to meet with each chapter to review their specific results and provide some initial educational information. So far, we’ve met with 39 chapters about violence prevention and continue to meet about substance abuse and mental health.

Why these specific topics? Research shows alcohol use, drug use, and mental health concerns can negatively affect college students’ academic performance in a variety of ways.

The surveys we conducted this semester show many Greek students are drinking to cope with stress. And according to the 2016 National College Health Assessment, 13.4 percent of Greek students experience academic difficulties due to alcohol.

Moving forward, we will provide each chapter leader with reports on survey results and suggestions for how they can promote healthy behaviors in their chapter.

Take advantage of your vision benefits

Take advantage of your vision benefits

Start your summer with the perfect pair of glasses or sunglasses! Do you wear contacts? We have those too!

Right now is the perfect time for graduate and international students to take advantage of their vision benefits through WSU student insurance. Our vision clinic is open all summer long and ready to help you!

Your $200 hardware benefit can go towards glasses, prescription sunglasses, or contact lenses. We even have a Cougar Package that includes selected frames, single vision polycarbonate lenses, and an anti-reflective coating for $200.

If you don’t have a vision prescription, it’s still important to visit your eye doctor every one to two years.

Have any questions about your insurance benefit? Please feel free to contact us. To book your appointment, call or schedule online through our Patient Portal.