Mason announces new student awareness, referral and education program for suicide prevention training


 On Thursday, April 22, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Counseling and Psychological Services will host the Mason CARES training program virtually. Mason CARES (Campus Awareness, Referral, and Education for Suicide Prevention) is designed to help students recognize the signs of suicide, respond to someone in crisis, and raise awareness of resources for themselves and others.

Starting with a pre-assessment, this short training will gauge what students already know about suicide prevention and explain meaningful vocabulary and language choices in talking about suicide. The training will include information on why people attempt suicide, specific warning signs, what to say and do in various situations where someone you know is thinking about suicide, and where to seek additional support. After two hours, students take a post-assessment to understand what they learned.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth attending college and universities in the U.S. Eighteen percent of undergraduate students and 15 percent of graduate students reported having seriously considered attempting suicide across their lifetime. The same study showed that 40 to 50 percent reported multiple episodes of serious suicidal thoughts. With rising stress and depression levels brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, this training is even more applicable.

  In a video, CAPS explained that, counselors are the first sign of care for students struggling with mental health concerns, but they do not have the opportunity to see every student. The presenter continued, and explained that suicide may be difficult to discuss, but awareness around the topic will help save the lives of loved ones. It is important to know how to recognize and respond to those in crisis and promote help-seeking behaviors.

 “Suicide is a difficult subject for many, but with data showing that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, discussion and training are vital. It can literally save a life,” said Kheia Hilton, CAPS Multicultural Outreach and Prevention Services coordinator. “Mason CARES provides suicide prevention skills to those who are not mental health professionals and helps them become better equipped to provide support and talk to others about suicide.”