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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 2, 2010

University supports Suicide Prevention Week Sept. 5-11

As part of National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 5-11, a University of Iowa committee plans to strengthen suicide prevention awareness and offer suicide prevention training programs for the campus community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the nation. In Iowa, the statewide suicide death rate and hospitalization rate are higher than national averages, according to the "Burden of Injury Report," by the UI Injury Prevention Research Center, based in the UI College of Public Health.

Suicide prevention is particularly important on college campuses. For college-aged young adults (age 18 to 24), suicide is the third leading cause of death in the country but the second leading cause of death in Iowa, according to the report.

"Suicide is a serious public health concern that occurs across age, ethnic, economic and social boundaries," said Marizen Ramirez, Ph.D., assistant professor of occupational and environmental health. "The most important message during National Suicide Prevention Week, and throughout the year, is that suicide is preventable."

The UI's College Committee for the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Johnson County has partnered with the Crisis Center of Johnson County to offer free suicide prevention training for faculty, staff, students and community members.

"Many people who complete or attempt suicide give warning signs to the people around them, but a lot of peers don't know what to do in those situations," said Sam Cochran, Ph.D., committee co-chair and director of University Counseling Service. "We want to empower these people with the knowledge and resources they need to notice warning signs, ask the right questions and make a referral for professional help."

The centerpiece of the campus suicide prevention trainings will be an evidence-informed intervention called QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer).

"Much like CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver, the fundamentals of QPR are easily learned. And much like CPR, the application of the QPR may save a life," said Carol Wozniak-Rebhuhn, committee co-chair and the Employee Assistance Program Coordinator for UI Faculty and Staff Services. "QPR consists of three life-saving skills that we can all learn to make a difference at that critical time when someone is considering suicide."

Public QPR training programs include:

--For UI students, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, Pomerantz Career Center, Room C131.
--For community members, 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, at the Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A.
--For UI faculty and staff, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, University Services Building, Room 112; and 8 to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, University Services Building, Room 112.
--For UI managers and supervisors, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13, University Services Building, Room 112.

The College Committee is one of seven groups that make up the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Johnson County. Spearheaded by the Crisis Center, the coalition formed in response to community concerns discussed at a town hall meeting held during Suicide Prevention Week in September 2009.

"It is important that people in our community know that resources are available," said Keri Neblett, community intervention director at the Crisis Center of Johnson County. "The Crisis Center's 24 hour crisis line is available to provide immediate crisis counseling and connect people to professional resources in the community."

The Crisis Center's 24-hour Crisis Line is 319-351-0140, online resources:

To read a related column, visit:

STORY SOURCE: The University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications and External Relations, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

MEDIA CONTACT: Sam Cochran, University Counseling Service, 319-335-7294 or; Carol Wozniak-Rebhuhn, Faculty and Staff Services, 319-335-2085 or Writer: Hannah Fletcher, 319-384-4277,