Aerial photo of UH Hilo campus

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Department of Student Health and Wellness Program received a three-year grant award of $261,000 to support Counseling Services in its suicide prevention efforts.

“The goal of this grant project is to prevent suicide and improve the mental health of UH Hilo students through a peer-to-peer outreach and support network,” explained Sulma Gandhi, director for Student Health and Wellness. “The UH Hilo Suicide Prevention Grant serves a widely diverse student body that reflects multicultural Hawaiʻi.”

According to a fall 2010 UH Hilo student survey administered by the American College Health Association:

  • 46 percent of students felt overwhelming anxiety within the last year
  • 60 percent felt very sad within the last year
  • 33.8 percent of students felt so depressed that it was difficult to function within the last year
  • 6.6 percent seriously considered suicide within the last year

“Recent survey data from UH Hilo indicates that our students do experience notable levels of anxiety, distress and depression—all of which can be risk factors for suicide,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Luoluo Hong. “With Dr. Gandhi now here on campus to initiate our inaugural health promotion and wellness programs, it is timely that we have received this generous grant to educate the campus community.”

The grant program is authorized under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, which is named in honor of former Senator Gordon Smith’s son who died by suicide, and is operated by HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

—Adapted from UH Hilo news release

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