Taking Action through Connections, Community and Collaborative Supports
Suicide is largely a preventable death. Over the last decade, a growing concern across Canada is student suicides, both on and off campus. McGill University has taken steps towards building capacity to help students in difficulty and those struggling with suicide.
In Fall of 2019 the need for a comprehensive student suicide prevention framework was identified through McGill campus consultations with students, faculty, and staff. This included, working with external experts and the review of leading practices. During our consultation phase, in addition to bolstering postvention activities, the McGill community voiced concerns for increased suicide prevention and intervention initiatives. Although these are interconnected, the most significant identified gap is postvention. While the comprehensive framework includes all three phases, postvention will be the priority addressed. By beginning with a focus on postvention, it will allow the McGill community to strengthen safe practices.
In 2021, the Office of the Dean of Students hired Melissa Lutchman, as the Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Specialist. Melissa has both personal and professional experience working in crisis intervention and suicide prevention for over 18 years and has national recognition for her work.
Melissa Lutchman in collaboration with Lina Di Genova, Director of Strategy, Assessment and Evaluation, continue to work on the development of the Student Suicide Prevention Framework document to formalize the processes that are already in place and to ensure that we follow best practices. The Office of the Dean of Students works in collaboration with the Student Wellness Hub and continues to maintain and develop external partnerships.
The framework is a living document and is not a policy. It will exist to provide guidelines and protocols for the McGill community in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention (following a student death by suicide) based on up-to-date best practices that promote community, connections, and collaborative supports. It takes an in-depth look at the current gaps at McGill and shares recommendations based on best practices. The section on postvention is essentially complete, while intervention and prevention components are in active development.
Here is a brief overview of the Framework:
- Best Practices:
- A global public health issue
- Suicide prevention among postsecondary students
- How to safely talk about suicide
- Understanding risk and protective factors associated with suicide
- McGill University and North American Context in Student Mental Health
- Benchmark comparisons
- Suicide Prevention at McGill University
- Increased student access to mental health supports
- Helping students in difficulty
- Framework development process and community consultations
- McGill’s Student Suicide Prevention Framework
- Development of Postvention Program for McGill University
- Environmental Scan
- Recommendations for a Postvention Program
The document is well on its way to becoming a final draft that will be available to the McGill community for feedback. Over the course of this year, students, faculty, and staff will be invited to new consultation groups so they can provide their feedback on the document. The Office of the Dean of Students is looking forward to working with the McGill community on such an important issue for students.