Dr. Vanessa Miller, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Athens State University, has been awarded an Alabama Higher Education Suicide Prevention Program grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health. The suicide statistics for the state of Alabama are unsettling, naming suicide as the second leading cause of death for college students. The $1,500, one-year grant will be used to bring about awareness of the signs and symptoms associated with suicide to the campus community and help reduce the stigma of seeking mental health care.
With this grant, Dr. Miller aims to change the attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs concerning suicide prevention. “This grant gives Athens State the opportunity to become active in creating awareness of suicide,” she says, “Knowledge is power. Providing educational seminars about suicide would allow Athens State to potentially touch a life, or educate someone to help save a life.”
To achieve her goal, Dr. Miller will be developing and conducting four educational seminars with the help of three undergraduate student assistants to enhance awareness of the facts and myths surrounding suicide. The Department of Behavioral Science will also be sponsoring four larger outreach programs that will take place on campus during the upcoming spring semester. The Crisis Services Center of Huntsville has partnered with Athens State University for these programs and will share information about the services and programs they provide, facts and statistics on suicide awareness, and educate students on the signs of suicide and how to connect individuals with the resources they need.
Dr. Miller also plans to research the current understanding that students have of suicide signs and symptoms via questionnaires. After the data is collected, Dr. Miller will share her findings with the Mental Health Counseling and Career Center and the Office of Student Services in order to assist with further developing proper long-term resources for students at Athens State. The grant gives Athens State the valuable opportunity to help educate not only their students about suicide, but the surrounding community as well.