An Innovative Training Program to Prevent Suicide

Buffalo State Cares

Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students? Buffalo State believes that even one student suicide is one too many, which is why the Campus Counseling Center partnered with us in 2011 to apply for a three-year federal Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Campus Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). We were one of 21 schools across the country that received this award. This support led to the creation of Buffalo State Cares, a new campus initiative to reduce suicide on campus and support students in suicidal crisis.

Our staff have an integral role in this important initiative. Grant funding has supported one of our trainers as a part-time outreach worker on campus. Her role includes meeting with students and campus stakeholders to raise awareness about the initiative and to provide QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training, which is an evidence-based education program.

View Our Faculty Training
View Our Faculty Training

Although there are other vendors marketing suicide prevention training for students, Buffalo State made a decision to utilize our expertise to develop a customized training system about suicide prevention for students, faculty, families, and community partners. Our Instructional Design and Development (IDD) Division developed a culturally-competent, engaging online training for all incoming undergraduate students that serves as an introduction to the topics of depression and suicide on college campuses, informs students about QPR training on our campus, demonstrates QPR intervention, and provides resources for students in crisis on and off campus. Corollary online trainings were also developed for family members of students, as well as for faculty members.

Our Instructional Design and Development (IDD) Division also created awareness materials for campus use, including a student bookmark, several brochures, and numerous handouts used in training. These materials are available here.

Our Research and Evaluation Group has had a large role in this initiative, including conducting all program evaluations. The assessment approach used during year one was consistent with the goals and objectives of the project and the grant. Accomplishments of year one include the following:

  • Over 500 participants were trained and evaluated in Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) in the classroom in the first year. Participants completed pre- and post-training assessments for each training event. In addition, consenting participants completed follow-up assessments 90 days after the end of QPR training to determine whether they had applied the knowledge and skills taught in the training. This data was shared with SAMSHA as part of the cross-site evaluation project.
  • The Suicide Prevention Exposure, Awareness, and Knowledge Survey (SPEAKS) was deployed electronically to a random sample of 1,000 students, faculty, and staff using a sample that proportionately reflected the make-up of the campus. SPEAK was administered in conjunction with the SAMHSA cross-site evaluation project team.
  • Over 700 online evaluations assessing the suicide online training component were completed. To date, these responses represent roughly 73% of those who attended the online training.
  • Over 1,000 valid hits on the Buffalo State Cares weblink nested on the Counseling Center’s website have been recorded.

Here is what students are saying about this initiative:

Student Testimonials *

  • “I think it shows a lot about the College, that they are making it mandatory for their students to watch this video. I think it is a great idea and I know everyone has had a low point in their life and this is a wonderful tool for students.”
  • “As someone who has gone through treatment for chemical dependency and depression, I applaud the thorough and engaging effort you’ve made to make others on campus aware of the issues. Treating at-risk individuals like the people they are and humanizing those who are outside the traditional experience of most children attending school for the first time is certain to make for a more rewarding and safe college experience for everyone.”
  • “Thank you for putting time and effort into this training. I'm so happy that Buffalo State cares!”

If your school or agency is interested in partnering with us to create customized suicide prevention training to meet the needs of your campus or community group, please view the brief video below or contact Jeanette Koncikowski, Senior Manager of Instructional Design and Development in our Instructional Design and Development (IDD) Division, at (716) 796-2110 or via email at .

* These testimonials were gathered from Buffalo State College students anonymously at the end of the mandatory online student training. They have not been altered or edited.