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Working together to prevent all student suicides

Suicide Awareness and Prevention Framework: providing support for students

The foundational belief of the UCalgary Suicide Awareness and Prevention Framework is that suicide deaths for individuals under the care of health systems are preventable. We aspire towards long-term system-wide transformation toward safer suicide care for our students using our seven key goals. Our mission is to provide quality, comprehensive, culturally informed, mental health support for individuals experiencing thoughts of suicide. We wish to prevent all suicides by helping individuals receive personalized support through the suicide crisis and connect them to resources that maintain their recovery. We are hoping to strengthen internal and external supports and ultimately help them create an enhanced sense of personal resilience and confidence moving forward.  

Anyone can be at risk for suicide. Thoughts of suicide are a common experience for many individuals, often emerging as a response to overwhelming pain or difficulties in life.

We will provide comprehensive care that supports each student as a member of our campus community, prioritizing their immediate safety while also providing support to improve the difficult circumstances and/or mental health challenges that may be connected to their suicide thoughts. With this in mind, the only acceptable goal is zero suicide.

UCalgary’s framework is based on the Campus Mental Health Strategy’s vision to create a caring campus community. It focuses on responsiveness and reflects principles within the Zero Suicide Framework created by the Zero Suicide Institute and the Suicide Prevention Resource Centre.

Our guiding principles

In promoting mental health as part of the Campus Mental Health Strategy, the University of Calgary aims to be:

We actively support and promote the mental health, well-being, and success of the campus community. We are an inclusive community that promotes mental health education, understanding, and awareness.

We leverage and contribute to local, national, and international evidence and perspectives to strengthen our collective capacity to support mental health.

We build capacity and strengthen ourselves to inspire further growth and innovation in promoting and supporting mental health.

We are responsive to the mental health needs of the campus community.

We commit to a culture of continuous improvement in the domain of mental health.

In addition, as a foundation for our guiding principles, UCalgary will engage with lived experience and diverse and vulnerable populations.

Working towards zero

Working towards zero

The following goals will guide our path towards greater suicide awareness and support for our campus community.

1. Lead

Lead a university-wide safety-oriented culture committed to suicide prevention, reducing stigma and promoting a community of caring.

2. Educate

Educate the campus community to provide competent, confident, and caring supports to encourage help seeking and help offering.

3. Identify and connect

Identify students with suicide risk via skills training, on-line resources, and within Student Wellness Services’ initial screening and assessment.

4. Engage

Reach out and engage students through supportive outreach. Resources available include counselling/mental health support, physicians, psychiatry, peer support, Faith and Spirituality Centre.

5. Guide and Assess

Guide students at-risk for suicide to helping supports; co-develop an individualized personal support or recovery plan.

6. Transition

Transition students to specialized care and supports when needed and support returns to campus. We will engage with  Alberta Health Services and community-based resources when creating these transition pathways.

7. Improve

Improve and communicate policies, processes, and procedures through continuous quality improvement, identifying clear measures for evaluation.

  1. Clearly communicate all processes and associated guiding documents to the campus community and community partners.
  2. Develop and improve process and procedures related to suicide prevention and awareness through data-driven quality improvement & evaluation (using clear measures) and continuous quality improvement.
  3. Promote mental health literacy across campus, building capacity for social connection and access to mental health support.

Advisory Committee

  1. Andrew Szeto, PhD, co-chair

    Director Campus Mental Health Strategy

  2. Sandra Kadhim

    Undergraduate medical student

  3. Gina Dimitropoulos, PhD

    Faculty of Social Work

  4. David Kirby

    Clinical Services Manager, Distress Centre

  5. Dr. Chris Wilkes

    Professor, Psychiatry, Section Chief, Child & Adolescent Outpatient & Specialized Services

  6. Melanie Grier

    Graduate student, Department of Psychology

  7. Mara Grunau

    Director, Centre for Suicide Prevention

  8. Andrew Thompson

    Undergraduate student, Department of Neuroscience

  9. Brittany Lindsay

    Graduate student, Department of Psychology

  10. Maya Sohn

    Alumna, Department of Neuroscience, Graduate student, Health Sciences.

  11. Kome Odoko

    Student Support and Case Management Coordinator, Student Wellness Services

For more information, contact

Andrew Szeto, Director, Campus Mental Health Strategy


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The Suicide Awareness and Prevention Framework was developed in collaboration with the Campus Mental Health Strategy, in community partnership with Calgary’s Centre for Suicide Prevention, and the Distress Centre.