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WSU suicide prevention program earns $1,200 Helping Hand

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 11:17 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita State University’s Suspenders4Hope suicide prevention program earned a Helping Hand from KWCH and DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers to help achieve its vision of saving lives nationwide.

Just like suspenders lift up your pants, we can lift up each other when it comes to mental health. That’s the message behind Suspenders4Hope.

For Jessica Provines - licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs over Wellness at WSU - it’s personal.

“I, like many others, am a suicide loss survivor. And it’s important that those of us who have lost someone to suicide get past the shame of that and be able to talk about it openly,” said Provines.

The movement started with t-shirts, showing suspenders that are drawn with words of hope. The idea is to spread awareness and spark a conversation.

Provines says the campaign encourages people to use the hashtag #WeSupportU, share their mental health stories, post selfies, and reach out to one another; however, there’s so much more.

Suspenders4Hope has an evidence-based prevention training program that takes about an hour and a half to complete online or in person. It also runs a mental health advocate program.

“We’re really encouraging faculty and staff to get more involved and become a mental health advocate this next semester,” said Provines.

She said mental health advocates wear the suspender shirts on mental health Fridays, get involved with online training, and offer credit for students to take the training.

“Our goal is to have one mental health advocate in every department on campus. We’re also spreading this out into the community, so we would love to have more advocates across Wichita,” said Provines.

The program also targets students with a simple wellness curriculum.

“It’s a set of cards that just has two- to five-minute exercises,” said Provines.

She said they’re designed to help improve connections with others and improve overall well-being. The idea is to give instructors an easy way to implement mental wellness into their curriculum and prevent mental health crises.

Suspenders4Hope also recently partnered with Ascension Via Christi to utilize funding from a Kohl’s Care Grant. Together, they plan to bring a mental health awareness campaign and suicide prevention training to local high schools.

Provines said this past year has been especially difficult for students.

One thing that has been very clear through this pandemic is that our students’ mental health is being impacted very strongly,” said Provines. “They’re having less connection with their friends, they’re struggling to adjust to online learning, and they’re just feeling really isolated.”

Suspenders4Hope must keep pushing forward, reaching more people and saving more lives. That’s why KWCH and DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers gave WSU a $1,200 Helping Hand to fulfill its mission.

“When the community gets involved and they get behind this program and they think that it can make a difference and they offer support, like you have just done, it really touches me and it means a lot. It helps me know that we need to keep going forward because we’re going to make a difference with this program,” said Provines.

Click here to learn more about Suspenders4Hope.

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