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The Jed Foundation Develops New Suicide Postvention Guidebook for Off-Campus College Student Housing

July 1, 2024
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Company Updates Student Experience

The comprehensive resource provides training and support for navigating residential community needs following a suicide.

June 6, 2024, Austin, Texas & New York City – The Jed Foundation (JED), in partnership with the College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition and Hi, How Are You Project (HHAYP), today released “Responding to a Suicide: Postvention Guidance for Student Housing Managers.” The new emergency preparedness guidebook provides best practices to off-campus student housing managers on how to handle the sudden and tragic loss of a resident in a community — likely one of the most challenging experiences they may encounter in their roles.

This resource gives student housing managers a greater understanding of this difficult topic and clear direction on each step of a postvention response, including specific steps to take in the immediate aftermath of a suicide to support and protect other community members. The guidebook also offers evidence-based guidelines and protocols on how to:

  • Engage with law enforcement.
  • Communicate with campus officials and the residential community.
  • Facilitate rapid support.
  • Memorialize the deceased.
  • Plan for long-term and future approaches to prevention and postvention.

More than 16 million teens and adults nationwide reported experiencing suicidal thoughts in 2023. Off-campus student housing operators are uniquely positioned to help with suicide prevention and postvention responses, as nearly 75% of suicides occur where people live. According to data collected by College House and other sources, about 80% of full-time college students nationwide lived in off-campus housing in 2023, including apartment and condominium complexes, rental homes, and at home with parents or family members.

Following an evidence-based postvention response in a community supports the bereaved and assists and protects anyone whose risk of self-harm may increase after someone else’s suicide. Therefore, sound postvention processes are also an important element of an effective prevention-based approach.

“We are at a pivotal moment where we continue to lose young people at increasing rates to suicide,” says Dr. Kurt Michael, senior clinical director at JED. “The urgency has never been greater, and our partnership with the College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition and HHAYP is a crucial step toward change. This guidebook provides essential support to communities in the wake of a tragedy, and importantly, it also provides proactive measures to prevent further loss of life to suicide.”

Composed of 24 college student residential housing companies reaching 800,000 young people across the United States, the College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition's mission is to better support and understand student residents, encourage open dialogues, and raise public awareness about the importance of mental wellness and its impact on students.

“Given our mission to create and foster environments where students thrive, how we respond to issues is just as important as the work to create communities of belonging in partnership with universities and colleges,” says Gina Cowart, senior vice president of brand and MarCom strategy at American Campus Communities and co-founding member of the College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition. “We’re grateful to partner with an organization like JED who can provide their expertise in this space along with needed insights and resources to all Coalition members.”

“We are grateful to work with mental health organizations like the College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition and JED, as these partnerships broaden our reach and expand our ability to help remove the stigma around mental health,” says Robert Sanchez, executive director of HHAYP. “Fostering thoughtful and honest conversations is imperative in creating a sense of interconnectedness, especially during these crucial times, and ultimately to better understand mental health and wellness across the college student demographic.”

Together, JED, the College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition, and HHAYP aim to prepare young people for the unexpected circumstance when a life is lost, while also increasing awareness of warning signs, normalizing help-seeking behaviors, and disseminating life-saving resources.

Responding to a Suicide: Postvention Guidance for Student Housing Managers can be downloaded here.

About The Jed Foundation (JED)

JED is a leading nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We’re encouraging community awareness, understanding, and action for young adult mental health. Connect with JED: Email | X | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn | Snapchat | Pinterest | TikTok

About the College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition

The College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition is an alliance of the nation’s top student housing providers who advocate for student mental wellness through encouraging open conversations, providing resources, and developing industry-wide peer-to-peer staff training programs, in partnership with mental wellness non-profit Hi, How Are You Project (HHAYP). Since its founding in 2022, the Coalition continues to expand its reach and impact as it envisions a world where all young adults thrive thanks to the support of their residential communities that are dedicated to promoting and advocating for mental wellness to facilitate personal fulfillment and academic success.

About the Hi, How Are You Project

The Hi, How Are You Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that aims to educate young people worldwide about the importance of mental health and well-being through creative content, events and community-building programs. Inspired by the renowned mural in Austin, TX, painted by the late Daniel Johnston, a celebrated songwriter and visual artist who battled mental illness throughout his life, the project aims to honor his legacy while promoting mental wellness.

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