Bucks Certified as Suicide Prevention Institution

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Gabriella Pirmann, Centurion Staff

Bucks was recently certified as a Suicide Prevention Institution of Higher Education, making it one of five schools in the state to earn this title.

According to Dekia Smith, a counselor here at Bucks, “While Bucks has always offered free and confidential counseling services for students, the Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention plan is a little different. This plan specifically addresses mental health and suicide prevention in a way that gives more in-depth information like warning signs and risks for suicide and most importantly, campus, local, and national resources that students, faculty and staff can access.”

Bucks submitted their plan in August, and was certified after a month and joined five other schools in PA with the certification.

The resources and aid that come with this certification can be found on Bucks’ website, www.bucks.edu, under the Campus Services option on the Students tab. Any student who is struggling mentally or emotionally is urged to make use of these resources.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, these resources have only become more of a necessity.

“With COVID and moving to remote learning, this had a direct impact on our students. Some, who already had identified mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression or even substance use, had reoccurrences that really caused them to struggle, but we also saw an on-set of these mental health disorders in students that had never dealt with this before,” said Smith.

“From March 15 to the end of the June, we had over 400 student appointments and from July until the end of December, I estimate that we will have well over 600 student appointments.”

Bucks counselors also participated in a 10 hour Telemental Health Counseling training in order to better support the student body at BCCC, but students aren’t the only people who benefit from this achievement.

“While the Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan web page is designed for students in mind, all of resources can be used by faculty and staff as well members of the community except for free counseling services which is designated for Bucks students only,” said Smith.

“We understand how intimidating, overwhelming, and sometimes embarrassing, that can be for many. Having the information listed on the website give everyone the tools and information they need to make an informed decision on their mental health and overall well-being.”

Regarding the school’s plan, Smith added, “I think it’s very important to know that putting this plan together means that we care for the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. Having our plan certified means that we have hit all the major points that make our plan safe and effective.”