Year of Publication



Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Dr. Christina Studts

Committee Member

Dr. Corrine Williams

Committee Member

Dr. Mark Swanson


Suicide rates have been on the rise for the past 30 years; 42,773 Americans dying every year by suicide. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death among all ages, but the second leading cause of death among Americans ages 15-24. College students traditionally fall within this age group, and are especially at risk for suicide due to stressful life conditions. The University of Kentucky, located centrally within Kentucky in the city of Lexington, is an ideal location for a suicide prevention intervention. Students demonstrated an increased rate of depression compared to the national population (15.13% of students surveyed reported a recent depressive episode and 11.21% reported a past episode). The Counseling Center within the University is at capacity, and currently sees 5% of students. In support of this grant, the University of Kentucky has created the Suicide Prevention Operations Task force (UK SPOT), with three main objectives: 1) deliver gatekeeper training to students and faculty; 2) increase screening efforts in healthcare settings; and 3) enhance availability of current mental health services. For objective 1, Kognito At-Risk program is administered to university students, faculty, and staff. The Kognito At-Risk program is a 30- minute online training that prepares participants to recognize symptoms of mental health distress that, left unaddressed, could lead to severe depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide ideation. The interactive program is self-paced and narrative driven, which provides and engaging simulation that is representative of real life stressors and situations faced by college students. Kognito teaches users to recognize signs of distress, engage in meaningful conversation, and refer students to appropriate services. For objective 2, additional screening will occur at University Health Services (UHS) through administration of the Beck Depression Inventory of Primary Care to students, and additional suicide prevention training with providers with Kognito At-Risk training and suicide consultation. For objective 3, additional staff will be utilized to increase capacity of the Counseling Center. The Kognito At-Risk program will be evaluated with a pre-test, post-test, and three-month follow-up survey to gauge self-efficacy, knowledge, course satisfaction, and demographics. Additional measures will include campus-wide mental health surveys, monitoring of referral rates at UHS, and service uptakes at the Counseling Center. Long-term outcomes will lead to increased use of Counseling Center resources and reduced rates of suicide ideation.

Included in

Public Health Commons