Cleveland State University gets grant to bolster suicide prevention efforts

CLEVELAND - It's quite often a taboo topic that left unspoken can lead to loss of life. Students and staff on one local college campus are working to remove the stigma connected to suicide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio has seen a 36 percent increase in suicides since 1999.

Demand for help with mental health continues to soar on the campus of Cleveland State University.

The university has seen a 10 percent increase in counseling requests each year as students struggle to navigate through college life.

"There are a lot of people that are dealing with more serious mental illnesses like depression and anxiety," said CSU student Courtney Dunn.

Dunn is a senior and part of the university's Hype Team.

"Suicide is a word that you are not supposed to say," said Dunn. "It's best to just come out and ask them, are you thinking of killing yourself."

Dunn and a handful of other students provide peer counseling to prevent suicidal thoughts from turning into action.

"One thing we know about suicide is that it is preventable," said CSU counseling center worker Katharine Oh.

CSU just received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to hire a new clinical case manager.

"That person is going to follow up from students who are hospitalized or are higher risk to make sure they're OK," Oh said.

The money will also help increase mental health education across campus.

"Our goal is to have 20 percent of students, faculty and staff trained in how to help someone who is having suicidal thoughts," Oh said.

It's training that film student Marty Barnard said is greatly needed. Barnard joined the suicide prevention campaign and used his camera to create a documentary called "Message of Hope," that will be featured on the CSU website.

"I just wanted to make a resource for people so that they understand they are not alone when they're going through it," Barnard said.

With a couple of suicides a year impacting the campus and hundreds more attempted, the push for prevention is ramping up.

"If we can help even just one person still be here, then that's what I want to do," Dunn said.

CSU is one of just 20 colleges and universities nationwide to receive the grant.

The staff hopes the added resources will help them reach more than 1,200 students.

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