Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s soccer takes complete control in 3-1 win vs. Davidson -

September 25, 2017

Shaughnessy Naughton speaks on STEM professionals in politics -

September 25, 2017

ESPN author and journalist talks sports and mental health at UMass -

September 25, 2017

UMass men’s soccer remains unbeaten at home -

September 25, 2017

Minutewomen split Pennsylvania trip -

September 25, 2017

Kozlowski’s minutes limited for second straight game in loss versus Fordham -

September 25, 2017

Late penalty-kick goal not enough vs. Rams -

September 25, 2017

UMass football nearly upends Tennessee Saturday in 17-13 loss -

September 25, 2017

A conversation with the Pixies’ Joey Santiago -

September 25, 2017

The problem with peer mentors -

September 25, 2017

Jukebox the Ghost take Northampton by storm -

September 25, 2017

Let them eat cake -

September 24, 2017

Three weeks in, and two UMass fraternities under suspension -

September 23, 2017

UMPD crime alert informs campus of motor vehicle theft near Rudd Field Sept. 17 -

September 22, 2017

‘It’ has revitalized the modern monster movie -

September 21, 2017

UMass Republicans feel ostracized in political climate -

September 21, 2017

Irma hits Cuba, putting rain cloud over students’ study abroad plans -

September 21, 2017

UMass football travels to Tennessee for its first Power Five game of 2017 -

September 21, 2017

UMass women’s soccer looks ahead to Thursday matchup with Davidson -

September 21, 2017

Perussault and the Minutewomen are ready for the start of A-10 play -

September 21, 2017

UMass Mental Health Services receives grant to aid in suicide prevention among students

uhs-JoshKelloggShe paces – lights another cigarette. It is clear to this reporter that this is not an easy matter to discuss.

The University of Massachusetts sophomore wishes to remain anonymous during the telling of her story – a personal narrative of struggle, depression and suicide ideation. Her story deals with some of the elements students can experience when faced with the reality of a close relation’s death.

In 2007, her first boyfriend was killed in a car accident on a night when the two were supposed to be meeting. Before seeking support from friends, family and mental health professionals, this student wrote off the idea of a support system, opting to care for her own needs because she said she thought she would be seen as “weak” if she pursued outsiders’ help.

Chain-smoking, a habit she had developed as a coping mechanism, was a habit she said she “still needed to get through the interview.”

She said, “I didn’t like the idea of talking about what had happened because I was so depressed that I thought people would think the thoughts I was having made me crazy or abnormal.”

“When he died,” she said. “It was really hard for me to deal with accepting what had happened. I thought that I couldn’t be close to other people because then something bad would happen to them too.”

During the interview, she acknowledged that she had isolated herself from those who tried to form a support group around her.

“I felt so alone, but it was my choice to be alone,” she said. “Because I thought it would help to handle this on my own, and that I was right in thinking the guilty feelings I was having should not be burdened on others.”

Months after her friend’s death, this student attempted to take her own life.

The student said that “had [she] sought out help or if someone had just done something to acknowledge [she] was not okay, [she] would not have tried to kill herself.”

This year, UMass’ University Mental Health Services division received a $300,000 grant towards suicide prevention that will help raise awareness about the serious mental and behavioral health issues facing college students just like this sophomore.

According to a release in 2006, when MHS received a $225,000 suicide prevention grant, they used it to follow what UHS officials have called a “gatekeeper model,” developed by Syracuse University.

MHS intends to use this year’s grant to continue following this model by further developing the ways in which those who frequently communicate with the student body can recognize at-risk students and get them help.

MHS’s plans for the grant involve training campus staff, coaches, administration and students to become first responders – people able to see the signs of mental and behavioral health issues in students and get those students the professional support they need.

In a release sent by UHS Communications and Marketing representative Karen Dunbar Scully, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Acting Administrator Eric Broderick said, “Nearly a quarter of a million students in colleges and  universities each year attempt suicide.”

Additionally, according to a release sent out in Nov. 2006 by UHS officials, “UMass Amherst surveys have shown that over 80 percent of [students] who sought mental health care said services helped them stay in school and improve academic performance.”

“I wish I had talked to someone without an emotional connection to me,” said the sophomore interviewed.

She continued by adding that “on top of everything that students have to deal with from family problems to academic issues and all the stresses that go with having a life, traumatic life-changing events can really put a person at dangerous low points. While it is normal to feel sad at times, it can be hard to recognize when those sad points have gone too far. Training people as first-responders can make all the difference because it can prevent someone else from feeling alone enough to hurt themselves.”

While UHS and MHS officials could not be reached for comment, Kerry Morrison, a licensed psychologist working at mental health services and the coordinator of the suicide prevention program, hosted a series of workshops in September training resident life staff on methods to help students who are struggling with mental health issues. Training included role-playing, group discussions and distribution of facts and data on suicide rates among college students.

At the end of her workshop on Sept. 21, Morrison had stressed that she hoped the workshop would help UMass housing resident directors and resident assistants be more aware of the signs of suicide ideation.

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at

One Response to “UMass Mental Health Services receives grant to aid in suicide prevention among students”
  1. As someone who has struggled with suicidal tendencies all of his life (and I don’t mean the band – there’s no struggle there, they’re great!) I think this is wonderful. College adds so much more stress to people that it’s no wonder so many college aged individuals suffer from this.

Leave A Comment