KSU to Offer Evidence-Based Suicide Prevention Course

KENT, Ohio – In response to few educational opportunities existing for mental health practitioners prior to being in the field, Kent State University and the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation are working to create new opportunities though a class offering.

According to a press release, recent data from the Ohio Department of Health shows Ohio averaged more than 1,700 suicide deaths per year from 2016 to 2021. Those numbers are expected to increase over the next reporting period. 

OSPF funded the creation of the Interprofessional Education Suicide Prevention College Curriculum course for colleges and universities. Kent State is the first university in Ohio to provide the course to its students, following pilot programs at the University of Cincinnati, Old Dominion University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The evidence-based course will be offered through the College of Applied and Technical Studies’ Bachelor of Social Work program but will be open to all students at Kent State. 

The class is offered in a hybrid model, with much of the coursework online. Students can take the in-person portions at the Ashtabula, Tuscarawas and Salem campuses.

“Working in partnership with the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation to become the first institution of higher education outside of the original implementation sites to offer this course since its development is a great honor,” said Peggy Shadduck, vice president for regional campuses and dean of the College of Applied and Technical Studies. “We are thrilled to be bringing this course offering to Kent State University as part of our new Bachelor of Social Work program. This helps fulfill a huge gap in education and training that we would like to help mitigate.”

The course is being offered as an elective with no prerequisites. Students across a wide range of majors, such as nursing, psychology, education and more, can learn about evidence-based suicide prevention strategies.

“Suicide is really a very specialized area of practice and, even in master’s level programs, you don’t ever get an entire semester about this topic,” said Matt Butler, Kent State lecturer and BSW program director. “These are skills usually learned on the job in the field or, sometimes, in continuing education courses. To have a chance to talk to undergrads about the cutting-edge aspects of suicide prevention, intervention, postvention, etc., is very exciting.”

The OSPF funded a multiinstitution effort to design, implement and revise the suicide prevention course to meet the contemporary needs of health profession students. 

Adopting the World Health Organization’s Interprofessional Education approach, the course provides learners an introductory and intermediate set of activities and competencies in suicide prevention.

The course content is drawn from multidisciplinary resources and perspectives, including counseling, ethics, law, nursing, medicine, psychology, public health and social work. 

“Historically, behavioral health specialists do not get comprehensive suicide prevention training,” said Tony Coder, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation. “We are excited to see this course implemented at Kent State University and to train Ohio’s future workforce in suicide prevention.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.