TheWELL initiates revamped suicide prevention program with $100,000 grant

Alessandro Powell, Contributing Reporter

A new associate director to spearhead a suicide prevention campaign this semester funded by a more than $100,000 grant they received in November at The Center for Wellness and Health Promotion.

“Since its inception, TheWELL has been focused on mental health,” Greeson said.

Tulane received a Garrett Lee Smith suicide prevention grant last year. It is a three-year grant, though the allowance varies from year to year. 

As a result of the grant, Tulane promoted Greeson from assistant director of TheWELL to associate director. She is the first staff member fully focused on suicide prevention and mental illness awareness. Greeson said she is optimistic about the programs TheWELL is implementing. 

“We’re already seeing a change in our culture,” Greeson said.

Greeson said she plans to increase suicide prevention efforts at multiple levels throughout the university. 

“Suicide does not exist in a vacuum,” Greeson said. “We can’t look at suicide as just a one-dimensional thing. We also have to do group things. We have to look at things on the institutional level.”

Greeson plans to use grant funding to train 12 members from the Division of Student Affairs in leading mindfulness workshops on impulse control. A new program called Wellness Wednesdays, aims to build resilience by way of promotion, connecting people with resources at social events like barbecues. 

The grant will also fund a Zumbathon on Oct. 2, which will lead up to the Ms. Paul Tulane & Mr. Sophie Newcomb Drag Show on Oct. 17. Both events benefit TheWELL and provide attendees with free information. 

TheWELL is developing marketing strategies with the grant, such as designing informational tank tops and notebooks to be distributed at wellness events. 

The new initiatives focus on training, especially in environmental awareness. Two-day suicide-prevention training has been provided to 60 Student Affairs professionals and 80 other staff members. All Tulane University Police Department officers and resident advisors have been trained in safe-talk to help reference at risk students without incident. TheWELL also works with Student Affairs to outline a set of guidelines for how students may intervene with students at risk for mental illness. The guidelines will be posted around campus. 

Greeson said the key to suicide prevention is to take the taboo off the table without resorting to a normalization nor glorification. 

“The [current] phrasing is not conducive to successful conversation,” Greeson said. “If you talk about suicide as something that’s preventable, that will do so much for the community.

Support recourses for survivors of suicide can be sought out at the Counseling and Psychological Services office, building number 14 on the academic quad, or by phone at (504) 314-2277.