Online Originals: ECU introduces suicide prevention interactive software

Online Originals

Suicide is a topic that many find hard to discuss. It’s often an uncomfortable and sad place to take our minds. However, it’s a very real issue.

The Department of Addiction and Rehabilitation Studies at ECU received the grant.

ECU was recently provided a $302,629 grant called Suicide Education and Prevention. Its goal is to assist the Department of Addiction and Rehabilitation Studies in addressing factors that are associated with campus suicides.

A 2019 study published by Depression and Anxiety looked at a pool of 67,000 college students at 100 institutes.

Their findings? One in five college students has suicidal thoughts, 9% attempt suicide, and 20% self-harm.

It noted one in four of these students currently are or have previously been diagnosed with a mental illness.

It’s the drastic numbers above that inspire grants and programs at colleges like ECU’s. With the grant, a personalized software called Kognito will be introduced to students and staff.

Dr. Leigh Atherton (above) is the project director for Kognito and the grant, as well as an ECU professor.

Kognito’s aims to increase suicide awareness and prevention skills in users, where they can interact with modules to feel comfortable discussing hard topics with peers.

It also helps users recognize the warning signs of someone struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts.

These signs include but are not limited to:

  • Severe mood swings 
  • Disregard for personal appearance 
  • Talking or joking about suicide 
  • Hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness 
  • Obsession with death (music, tv, literature) 
  • Withdrawn 
  • Self-destructive behaviors (drugs, alcohol, lack of self-care)

The three-year grant allows the purchase of three modules for use within ECU’s-at-risk, LGBTQ, and veteran population of students.

Starting in 2020, ECU staff involved with the grant will introduce Kognito to freshman orientations.

(Above is different lessons from a module, discussing ways to handle conversations with a friend(s) who might be struggling with mental health).

They will discuss how students can use the software to learn how to reach out to peers who may be struggling with mental health. Once those willing have taken a 30-minute pilot program, staff will use feedback to adjust the modules accordingly.

Part of a pilot module, which allows participants to control their conversation with an avatar who is struggling with mental health.

The goal is for this software to be a requirement when entering ECU, like online alcohol modules.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health, here are some helpful numbers and tips.

What YOU can do-

  • Stay involved 
  • Keep in touch 
  • Ask open-ended questions 
  • Self-care promotion 
  • Share personal issues 
  • Reassurance

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

  • 1-(800)-273-8255 

North Carolina Suicide Prevention Numbers List 

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