Thursday, February 3, 2011

College’s suicide prevention program lauded as national model

Tony Deobil presents at the national SAMSHA conference
in Bethesda, MD.
Daytona State College’s suicide prevention program – Project SPEAK – has been identified as a model among the nation’s colleges and universities, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The federal agency, which is funding a three-year, $300,000 grant for Daytona State to develop Project SPEAK, (Suicide Prevention Education and Knowledge), recently recognized the college at its National Conference on Suicide Prevention in Bethesda, MD, according to Tony Deobil, program coordinator. Mr. Deobil was a co-presenter at the conference along with a colleague from Penn State University. Their workshop entitled “Life is Precious” focused on collaborating with faith-based and veterans groups, as well as with parents to help prevent suicides among college students.

“The gist of our presentation was about going outside the walls of the institution to develop supportive networks for college students,” Mr. Deobil said. “One area would be working with the faith community. Statistics show that people are twice as likely to seek out a member of the clergy over a mental health counselor.”

All totaled, SAMHSA is awarding $6.3 million in grants to assist colleges and universities across the country in their efforts to facilitate a comprehensive approach to preventing suicide.  “We are kind of at the forefront,” Mr. Deobil said. “They are referring a lot of other schools to us so we can share some of the things that we are doing.”

In June, the college will host a statewide conference on suicide prevention in higher education. The conference will take place at the News-Journal Center located downtown on Beach Street.

Project SPEAK is a cooperative effort among Daytona State, Seminole State College and the University of Central Florida. The project team offers educational seminars at all college locations to help students and staff recognize the signs and risk factors of depression and suicidal ideation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. In recent years, several Daytona State students have died by suicide; however, Project SPEAK has trained literally thousands of students, staff and faculty from the three local institutions to recognize the warning signs and offer some level of assistance to those in crisis.

For more information or to get involved with Project SPEAK, please e-mail or , or call (386) 506-4218.