ASU’s Laurel Carter named to national suicide prevention group


Adams State University's Suicide Prevention Outreach Coordinator, Laurel Carter, was named to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's Consumer-Survivor Committee. A federally-funded public health service, the Lifeline project regularly engages expert collaborators, advisors, and partners. It is committed to reaching and serving all persons in the United States who are at risk of suicide through a national network of crisis centers.

"This is a significant recognition for Laurel," noted Gregg Elliott, director of Counseling & Career Services.

As part of her responsibilities, Laurel will travel to Baltimore for regular meetings to work directly with the Lifeline Board of Directors and will also serve on a workgroup responsible for specific tasks and/or product development between meetings. Lifeline members assist in developing public communication messages, culturally effective outreach approaches, and strategic partnerships that could assist in promoting the Lifeline to high risk groups.

Carter explained, "Part of the Lifeline's mission is to identify and improve the services it provides to high-risk populations. I hope to be able to identify gaps in services here at ASU, and use this committee's mission as a support and guide to bridge those gaps for our ASU community."

Grant-supported prevention

In 2011, Carter's position as Suicide Prevention Outreach Coordinator was created through a three-year, $225,000 Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention grant awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Carter is a 2010 graduate of ASU's Counselor Education MA program.

She has partnered with students and other personnel across campus to implement the first student-led, suicide prevention campaign, called SWAG: Suicide Watch Awareness Gang. The campaign's purpose is to promote an excitement for life and infinite possibility, instill hope and recovery, and foster an ASU community of connection and support. The campaign has brought much-needed awareness to the topic of suicide and has drawn individuals in an enthusiastic way to be a part of the mission. In its first year the campaign reached thousands of people within the university and community at large through the uplifting, educational, and healing events such as the fall's "1100 Reasons to Stay Alive and Connected" and last spring's Mental Health Awareness Week.

Carter serves on the ASU Campus Health and Safety Committee, and spends a large amount of her time reaching out to any person on campus who may be struggling with mental health concerns, building relationships, and connecting people to necessary resources. She trains campus and community members through ASIST Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training and safeTALK.

She also teaches the Prevention Awareness Crew course designed to provide preventative education to the ASU community, increase awareness of mental health concerns, and allow students the opportunity to take an active role in campus and community events aimed at prevention education. Carter is a member of the San Luis Valley Prevention Coalition and sits as chair-person for the Suicide Prevention subcommittee. She has spoken at various local community events on suicide intervention and prevention, including the "Day Without Hate Rally" for surrounding schools, monthly Community Lunch-n-Learns, and the Annual Parent Institute Conference.

High risk in San Luis Valley & Colorado

Suicide has always been a major concern for the SLV and for Colorado. The suicide rate for the SLV in 2009 was approximately 28 per 100,000, compared to the overall Colorado rate of 18.7 per 100,000, which ranked Colorado as the sixth worst state in the United States. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults in Colorado. The number of suicide deaths in 2010 in Colorado (867) exceeded the number of deaths from homicide (171), motor vehicle crash (480), influenza and pneumonia (549), and diabetes (721).

1,100 Reasons to Stay Alive - SWAG Facebook page

Adams State Crisis Counseling

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

By Julie Waechter