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September 20, 2010


Chair Neikirk said Ms. Jane Bost of the Counseling and Mental Health Center asked if the Council would pass a resolution supporting the goals and importance of Suicide Prevention Week. He said he countered her idea by saying it might be better if Council members were given the opportunity to learn more about the issues involved instead of simply voting on a resolution.

A. Suicide Prevention Week.

Dr. Chris Brownson, director, Counseling and Mental Health Center, reported that suicide is the second leading cause of death of students on campus. He said the goal of the Center was not just to prevent deaths, but it was also to promote good mental health. He said an important impediment to academic success among college students is mental health problems, and the Centerís mission was to promote academic success and enable students to reach their full potential as UT students. He said the purpose of the presentation was to inform Council members about programs that are underway to help students and to encourage interest and participation in some of the training programs. He said staff members would very much welcome the opportunity to provide training for faculty in the departments and programs across campus. Dr. Brownson said faculty are in an excellent position to recognize students who need help and provide guidance and intervention that can prevent serious problems. However, faculty need to know how to recognize when students are having difficulties because the students are reluctant to directly inform anyone about their problems.

Ms. Jane Bost, associate director, encouraged faculty members to attend workshops that help them recognize signs of students in distress, understand good response strategies, and know about resources that are available on campus and in the community. Ms. Marian Trattner, suicide prevention coordinator, discussed the Be That One program for faculty. The three-year old program helps faculty to know how to ask students if they are considering suicide and how to refer them to the Center for help. Ms. Christa Lopez, coordinator of student emergency services in the Office of the Dean of Students, said she worked with the Behavior Concerns Advice Line in assessing threats or behaviors occurring in the classroom and work groups. She explained that trained professionals man the telephone lines to handle calls. Other services include consultation, action plans, and workshops. Ms. Bost also reported on a workshop designed for students experiencing serious distress, and Dr. Brownson encouraged Council members to invite Center staff to their departments for training and educational sessions.

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