ECU debuts Suicide Prevention software

GREENVILLE (WITN)- The Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies at ECU is raising awareness about suicide and the risk factors associated with mental health and substance abuse issues.

The department was awarded a three-year, $302,629 grant to address suicide on campus.

Dr. Leigh Atherton is the Assistant Professor for the Department of Addictions and Rehab studies.

He says suicide rates are increasing across the U.S.

Dr. Atherton says one of the plans with the grant money is piloting the use of Kognito online interactive software aimed at increasing suicide awareness and prevention skills

He says Kognito users engage with interactive scenarios that simulate conversations and allow the user to select the most appropriate responses based on the situations.

The simulation also guides students to appropriate resources on campus for those who are suicidal.

"Peers to look out for each other and give them the skills that are needed to have those conversations. mental health is very stigmatizing so learning a different skill set and how to have a conversation that doesn't push your friend away but actually invites them into talking about it is essential," Atherton said.

Grant staff will also present to freshmen orientation courses this fall and spring of 2020, discussing common risk factors associated with suicide and discuss how students can best approach peers they may be concerned about.

Students from those classes will be invited to participate in the pilot program for Kognito, taking the 30-minute module and providing feedback on how the software might be better tailored for ECU students.

Dr. Atherton says the grant team will also host applied suicide intervention skills training workshops for those on campus who are most likely to encounter students in crisis.