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"LifeLine" Raises Awareness of Suicide Risk Factors

PLATTSBURGH, NY (10/12/2007) - Going off to college is an exciting time for students; new opportunities, new friends, and a new level of independence that some may find difficult to handle. What happens to a student who, finding these challenges difficult to manage, goes into a tailspin? What if other hurdles cause a student to lapse into a state of confusion, hopelessness, or despair?

That's exactly the question that a group of faculty and staff at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh asked when they sat down this past summer to address the serious issue of suicide. The group sought to be proactive, because as the second leading cause of death for American college students, suicide affects the entire college community, causing the loss of valued members.

Seeing it as a campus-wide problem, the members of SUNY Plattsburgh's Mental Health Task Force created a campus-wide solution. One component of that solution is the LifeLine Suicide Prevention Program; its goals include heightening campus awareness of suicide and suicide risk factors and creating a true safety net that provides support for students most at risk.

The LifeLine Program is a collaborative effort between University Police, the Dean of Student's Office, Residence Life and the Center for Student Health and Psychological Services. LifeLine is driven by a new protocol for managing suicidal students that expects employees of SUNY Plattsburgh to report to University Police all behaviors, which, in their best judgment, constitute a threat to self and others.

Students with founded reports of suicidal behaviors are referred to LifeLine by the Dean of Students for participation in a comprehensive suicide assessment with a licensed mental health professional. The LifeLine process includes a series of sessions to assess risk and provide recommendations for helping the participant maintain safety and identify appropriate interventions.

The Mental Health Task Force and offices participating in LifeLine are pleased to be offering this service to students. It is our hope that LifeLine will promote the safety and well-being of our learning environment.

Students with questions about the new LifeLine Suicide Prevention Program, are encouraged to contact the SUNY Plattsburgh Center for Student Health and Psychological Services at 518-564-3086. General information regarding suicide is available online through the American Association of Suicidology - www.suicidology.org .

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