Friday, October 9, 2015

Questions for Administration re: Student Death Protocols & Suicide Prevention (or the lack thereof)

I will write more soon about my recent adventures in admin. But for now, some questions. Please feel to ask them yourselves.

Questions for the Vice Chancellor of Students' Office & The Counseling Center

On the Student Death Protocol Issue

--How many UHM students die each year? Have you categorized or studied them? Please provide details and statistics.

--Describe the procedures you have for handling a death by natural or accidental causes, as opposed to suicides. Are they different procedures? (According to best practices (see links below), all deaths should be treated in the same way to avoid the risk of suicide contagion.) In these cases of natural or accidental deaths, how do you reach out to the friends and acquaintances and staff members? How do you notify them of them of services that are available, in case of trauma?

--How do students who do not live in the dorms receive notice of a fellow classmate's death? Do Counselors reach out to them in the same way as they do for Student Housing residents? Please verify.

--We were told that the administration sent out a notification of a student's death to the community once, in 2006, and the victim's sister was re-traumatized by it. Did you notify the family that you would be putting a notice out before you did so? What can you do to avoid re-traumatizing someone without simply remaining silent, bearing in mind that hearing of a death through the rumor mill is itself traumatizing?

--When there are memorial services for students who died, how were people notified of these services? How many people were notified and how were they chosen? How often has UHM assisted families and friends in having such services?

--It appears that you notify only the very easiest to reach students who might be acquainted with the victim--the people on the same floor, the people in their clubs, and professors of their classes. How do you think that this represents the important acquaintances and friends of this person? What more could you be doing?

--Granted, we cannot always "beat" the news cycle about deaths on campus, can we enter the news cycle as a compassionate institution, rather than saying nothing?

--How will the compassionate procedures now in place (but not published or available to us in any way) be passed on to the next administrators, given that people retire or leave Hawai'i for other jobs?

On Mental Health Issues and Counseling

--What fraction of students in crisis are you able to serve? How do you know this? How does the Counseling Center receive funding and additional resources if they are experiencing an influx of students in need of services?

--How many students are treated by the Counseling Center currently? Over the past year? The past decade? How many more resources are needed to provide services to those students in need who have not been served.
--What specifically was done with the grant money from SAMSHA that the Director of Counseling mentions at recent meetings with ASUH, GSO and the Faculty Senate committee (aside from buying an ad in Ka Leo to announce their table at campus center)? Please provide detailed examples and outcomes (i.e. the final report).
--Where can faculty easily access information on what you do, both in crisis, and in the day to day, to care for our students?
--How does the Counseling Center support national mental health programs such as National Suicide Prevention Month? Please provide examples.

--How does the Counseling Center use state and local mental health services to educate and support UH students?

Communications Issues

--Who is the Communications and Outreach person for the Counseling Center, and how do they communicate with a student body of roughly 20,000? Please provide examples of on-going efforts that span the academic or calendar year.

--Only about 1,500 students pay to participate in New Student Orientation each fall. How are students who do not pay to participate in New Student Orientation informed of Counseling Center services? Please provide examples of on-going efforts.

--How does a staff member first hear about the Counseling Center services on campus? Where is there information about this through OHR?

Some resources on dealing with suicide in schools (for those who don't know of them)


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