interference.” Hirsch and Kelly Cucrowicz, PhD, an associate
professor of psychology at Texas Tech, are hoping to answer that
question in proposed research.
In the meantime, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center
offers a course called “Counseling on Access to Lethal
Means” (CALM). Available at http://training.sprc.org/course/
description.php#course3, the free, self-paced course teaches
those who already have training and experience in mental
health counseling why restricting access to guns and other
methods must be part of a comprehensive approach. It also
offers guidance on how to ask clients about their access to lethal
means and how to work with both clients and families to reduce
that access, including concrete tips such as keeping only nonlethal quantities of medications in the home and storing guns
with trusted individuals, firearm storage facilities or the police
“People in the suicide prevention world understand that
you need to ask if someone has access to guns, but they need to
know what to do next when someone says, ‘Yes,’” says Goldstein
Rebecca A. Clay is a journalist in Washington, D.C.
Suicide prevention goes to school
A decade ago, a college student named Garrett
Smith killed himself after battling depression and
bipolar disorder. His father, then-Sen. Gordon
Smith (R-Ore.), transformed that personal tragedy
into public good by co-sponsoring the 2004
legislation that was eventually incorporated into
a suicide prevention bill named after his son: the
Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act.
Continuously reauthorized since then, the act’s
grant programs fund suicide prevention efforts on
both college campuses and in states, territories
and tribal areas.
APA President Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, a
professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences
at Emory University School of Medicine, received
a three-year Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Campus
Suicide Prevention grant in 2009. The funding
helped Kaslow and colleagues build a campus-wide suicide prevention program.
The program began with a suicide prevention
website called Emory Cares 4 U, which includes
an interactive, confidential screening tool;
personal stories from people affected by suicide;
contact information for those seeking help;
and information about suicide and prevention
tailored to international students; lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender students; and other
“This is a great opportunity to connect with
students in a medium they like, understand
and work with every day,” says Lauren Moffitt
Edwards, PhD, an adjunct assistant professor at
Emory and a clinician in private practice.
The online screening tool is a key feature, says
Amanda Garcia-Williams, a doctoral candidate
in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health who
helped develop the website. “If someone is
depressed and suicidal, sometimes it’s a lot to
ask of them to even get out of bed and then find
a place to go get help,” she says. “This takes
the work off of their shoulders.” If the online
screening tool results suggest a student needs
help, students can chat with a counselor online or
get connected to face-to-face services.
Another component of Emory’s program is
“gatekeeper” training, which teaches people how
to recognize and react to suicide warning signs.
Thanks to its Garrett Lee Smith grant, Emory
adopted an evidence-based program called
QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) that trains
participants to ask if someone is suicidal and then
persuade that person to get help if needed.
“Anyone who has daily contact with students
is trained, from professors, coaches and resident
assistants to physicians,” says Edwards. “We
even trained the debate team staff.”
— ROBIN TRICOLES
Smalley, K. Bryant, Warren, J., & Rainer, J. (2012).
Rural Mental Health: Issues, Policies, and Best Practices.
New York: Springer.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center and Western
Interstate Commission of Higher Education, Mental
Health Program. (Undated.) Suicide Prevention Toolkit for
Rural Primary Care. Available at http://www.sprc.org/for-