With a rising epidemic of suicide and mental health issues plaguing college campuses, counseling services at William Jewell College have developed a program that can dramatically reduce the risk of suicide.

Approximately 42,773 people commit suicide each year. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than all other medical conditions combined. Statistically in Missouri and Kansas suicide is the second leading cause of death. That means that one in every 12 U.S. college students have suicidal thoughts or a plan to commit suicide. In light of these statistics Jewell has adopted the Ask Listen Refer Program. This is a statewide online suicide prevention program created specifically for college campuses.  

The Ask Listen Refer program was funded by a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health for Missouri Campuses. It has been adopted and utilized by Jewell for several years. Jewell aims to help any and all students who are struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide with this prevention program.

Dr. Tricia Hager, Jewell’s psychologist, outlined some of the goals of the program.

“One of the goals is to help people identify others at risk for suicide,” Hager said.

Some of the signs include withdrawal, reckless behavior, mood swings or drug/alcohol abuse. A nationwide statistic found that 60.5 percent of students reported feeling lonely, which explains a common denominator of rising depression among students. The most important thing to do if you believe that you know someone who is experiencing these symptoms is to get them help.

The second goal of the program is to help people recognize the risk factors, protective factors and warning signs of suicide. A potential asset to Jewell is a committee dedicated to educating students about suicide. For example, at Aurora University in Illinois, students started giving presentations to faculty members regarding depression and suicide. These presentations have not only encouraged and promoted mental health education but have also generated conversation and acceptance for those struggling with mental illness.

Not only does Jewell have the Ask Listen Refer program, but there is also a full team of counselors available for students to confide in and receive help from. In addition to Dr. Hager, Kelli McKinney is another leading counselor. Students have the option of receiving group therapy or individual therapy. There are also outside referral options and outreach and prevention programs.

Below are some links to additional resources for students or others who have questions about counseling services or are in need of support.

Crisis Intervention Hotline: 816-365-0709

Jewell counseling services: http://www.jewell.edu/student-life/counseling-center

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