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November 9, 2012

ULM hosts third annual suicide awareness event Nov. 15

In honor of National Survivors of Suicide Day, ULM HELPS (Helping Educators and Learners Prevent Suicide) is hosting the third annual “Reach Out to HELP," 9-11 a.m., Thursday,  Nov. 15.

The event recognizes those who have died as a result of suicide or who have been affected by suicide. 

The event will also raise awareness about the different resources available to ULM students, staff, and faculty, as well as the surrounding community.

“Reach Out to HELP” is free to attend and will be held in ULM’s Bayou Park, located between Starbucks and Bayou DeSiard, across from the ULM Library. 

“The event will continue its success of bringing the community and ULM family together, and to spread a message of hope and awareness,” said Dr. Jana Sutton, principal investigator for the ULM HELPS grant.

Several ULM campus and community organizations will participate in the event; there will be music, food, giveaways, and prizes.

At 10:30 a.m., a visual demonstration of “reaching out” will be conducted with participants forming a caring circle. The event will conclude with a balloon launch.  

Peggy Buffington, project director for ULM HELPS explains, “The student and community organizations and local businesses are invited each year to be a part of this event.  It is important we all find organizations or places where we can join others who have similar interests to our own so that we can build a network of close and supportive friends. The campus and local communities continue to amaze me in their desire to ‘help’.”

Impact of ULM HELPS:
During the three years ULM HELPS has been in Monroe, data has been collected from more than 1,200 participants who have received suicide awareness and prevention training, referred to as Question Persuade Refer (QPR) training. 

“The data is very compelling,” said Dr. Arturo Rodriguez, co-principal investigator for ULM HELPS.

“The training conducted by the ULM HELPS team and certified volunteers proved to be significantly more effective for our participants than the effects reported in similar projects. Our team and volunteer trainers need to be recognized for their tremendous success."

ULM HELPS has also been successful in providing facts concerning suicide prevention; teaching participants how to ask someone about suicide and how to persuade someone to get help; increasing the likelihood of participants to ask someone who appears to be at risk; and improving the participants' feeling of confidence in their ability to help a suicidal person.

In addition, ULM HELPS has provided suicide awareness and prevention information to more than 4,000 ULM students, staff, faculty, and community members including middle school and high school teachers and administrators.

Additional outreach efforts on the ULM campus include providing trainings concerning non-suicide mental health issues, establishing a ULM student organization called “Active Minds,” and hosting the Reach Out to HELP and MINDFEST events.  

Community-wide outreach efforts include participating on the Children’s Coalition Suicide Prevention Board; providing training to organizations including the Jackson House; and participating in a host of middle and high school and community events including Heart Beat of Monroe Suicide Awareness Walk. 

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