Building Suicide-Safer College and University Communities: Strategies and Interventions

Georgia continues to lead national efforts to implement statewide best practices in assessing, intervening and providing follow-up monitoring for persons struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings. On May 16, the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) hosted the 5th annual Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention College Conference at Middle Georgia State College.

The conference featured expert presenters from across the U.S. and was a collaborative effort between the department and the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Georgia. Panels and educational sessions offered best practice training to more than 150 representatives from nearly 40 Georgia colleges and universities. The theme, “Building Suicide-Safer College and University Communities: Strategies and Interventions,” is part of DBHDD’s initiative to create “suicide-safer” communities, secondary schools and colleges.

“Suicide-safer communities are passionate in their belief that suicide is preventable and that prevention is a shared responsibility where every person has the potential to make a difference and save a life,” said ­­­­­­­­­Michelle Zelaya, DBHDD’s GL Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Projector director. “We are working in schools and communities to develop action plans for suicide prevention and intervention, and to provide support for those bereaved by suicide.”

DBHDD launched the concept of suicide-safer communities during Suicide Prevention Month in September of 2013. “The idea is that one suicide prevention strategy is not enough. The suicide-safer initiative is an effort to embed our communities with a commitment to suicide prevention, providing compassionate care and support to those bereaved by suicide, and to promote the mental health and wellness of its citizens,” Zelaya said.

DBHDD receives funding from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Grant to support prevention education and activities across Georgia.

DBHDD Office of Suicide Prevention website:

Contact Information:

Angelyn Dionysatos, [email protected], (404) 463-8035