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University officials aim to identify students facing distress

By : Katie Ellis

With a goal of helping students in distress, more than two dozen people from across campus met last week during a half-day retreat to address the causes, consequences and prevention strategies.

Rodger Summers, vice president for student affairs, said campus has helped a number of students in crisis this semester. “Nationally, colleagues of mine were also experiencing an increase in suicides and attempted suicides,” Summers said. “I hope the retreat will help us learn to identify students at risk, make faculty and staff more aware of the signals to watch for, and provide resources to help all of us as we work with students.”

Ann Munley, a certified social worker, presented information on what populations are at high risk for suicide attempts and those most likely to be successful. Though college students are not currently in the group with the highest attempt rates, the numbers have been rising rapidly in recent years.

Participants, including several members of student affairs, as well as faculty masters, University police, religious advisors and representatives from the Counseling Center, also discussed prevention and intervention strategies and stress points in the campus culture.

Summers said he hopes the retreat will result in new approaches to working with at-risk students. “We want to give front-line staff the tools they need so they can be part of the process as they meet and talk to students,” he said .

Faculty and staff can contact the University Counseling Center at 777-2772 for more information on working with students in crisis or dealing with traumatic events. Information can also be accessed at the Counseling Center’s website at
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Last Updated: 10/14/08