Kent State to offer Ohio’s first evidence-based suicide prevention course in partnership with Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation
Recent data from the Ohio Department of Health shows Ohio averaged over 1,700 suicide deaths between 2016-2021, with those numbers expected to increase over the next reporting period. However, few educational opportunities exist for mental health practitioners prior to being in the field. That’s why Kent State University and the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation (OSPF) are working to change that through a new evidence-based suicide prevention class offering.
OSPF funded the creation and original implementation of the course, called the Interprofessional Education Suicide Prevention College Curriculum, and all its materials to interested institutions willing to provide this course as in-person, online or blended in its delivery.
Kent State is the first university in Ohio to provide the course to its students outside of the original course developers at the University of Cincinnati, Old Dominion University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The course will be offered through the College of Applied and Technical Studies’ (CATS) Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program, but, because of its uniqueness and broad application, will be open to all students at Kent State. The class is offered in a hybrid model, with much of the coursework online. Students can take the in-person portions at the Ashtabula, Tuscarawas and Salem campuses.
“Working in partnership with the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation to become the first institution of higher education outside of the original implementation sites to offer this course since its development is a great honor,” said Peggy Shadduck, Ph.D., vice president for Regional Campuses and dean of the College of Applied and Technical Studies. “We are thrilled to be bringing this course offering to Kent State University as part of our new Bachelor of Social Work program. This helps fulfill a huge gap in education and training that we would like to help mitigate.”
The course is being offered as an elective with no pre-requisites to provide opportunities for inter-disciplinary learning. Students across a wide range of majors, such as nursing, psychology, education and more, can benefit from the opportunity to learn about evidence-based suicide prevention strategies.
“Suicide is really a very specialized area of practice and, even in master’s level programs, you don’t ever get an entire semester about this topic,” said Kent State lecturer and BSW program director Matt Butler, MSSA, LISW-S, LICDC-CS. “These are skills usually learned on the job in the field or, sometimes, in continuing education courses. To have a chance to talk to undergrads about the cutting-edge aspects of suicide prevention, intervention, postvention, etc., is very exciting.”
The OSPF funded a multi-institution effort to design, implement and revise the suicide prevention course to meet the contemporary needs of health profession students. Adopting the World Health Organization’s (WHO, 2010) Interprofessional Education approach, the course provides learners an introductory and intermediate set of activities and competencies in suicide prevention. The course content is drawn from multidisciplinary resources and perspectives, including counseling, ethics, law, nursing, medicine, psychology, public health and social work.
OSPF funded the creation of the course for colleges and universities, along with pilot programs at The University of Cincinnati, Old Dominion University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, to offer to undergraduate and graduate health profession students.
“Historically, behavioral health specialists do not get comprehensive suicide prevention training,” said Tony Coder, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation. “We are excited to see this course implemented at Kent State University and to train Ohio’s future workforce in suicide prevention.”