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School of Social Work Creates Life-Saving Project Aiding Suicide Prevention

Collaborative Efforts will Strengthen Curriculum, Provide Needed Research

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. — (March 21, 2017) — The Monmouth University School of Social Work has created a new project to expand its efforts to aid in the prevention of suicide. Initial funding for the project has come from R. Scott Fritz, a suicide prevention advocate, and the Palermo-Ravich Foundation.

According to Robin Mama, Ph.D., dean of the School of Social Work, the new SRF Suicide Prevention Research and Training Project plans to focus on several key areas, including:

  • Suicide prevention training in collaboration with the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County;
  • Research for evaluation and original discovery in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention;
  • Curriculum development for schools, colleges and other professional disciplines; and
  • Dissemination of research to create best practice models.

Each year, approximately 42,000 persons in the United States take their own lives, according to Associate Professor of Social Work Michelle Scott, Ph.D. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control says this figure corresponds to one suicide every 13 minutes.

Fritz is enthusiastic about the project, having had a long-term goal of developing a partnership with an organization that could provide research.

“As programming continues to evolve and new things are learned, research is a key component to direct us toward programs that are effective and meet best-practice or evidence-based standards,” said Fritz. “For example, how often do we need to do ‘booster shots’ to keep the positive effects of the training active? What really attracted me to a university setting is having that research component which, we believe, will help us make substantial contributions to the field.”

One of Fritz’s hopes is that this project will increase the number of people being educated about prevention. “Talking about suicide in a proper way is not going to plant the thought of suicide in anyone’s mind to carry it out. That’s one of the myths about suicide; that it interferes with engagement in prevention activities. Everyone has a role in suicide prevention and I hope this project can help spread awareness about what those roles can be.”

“My passion for suicide prevention is not simply to be a ‘do-gooder.’ What I hope to accomplish is the development of solid programming, research and evidence-based work founded on best practice,” said Fritz.

“We are very excited to continue our work in suicide prevention through this new initiative,” said Mama. “This will allow us to continue some of the excellent work that Michelle Scott began during our Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention grant and to expand our collaboration with several expert partners in the field, including Maureen Underwood, LCSW, who has worked with Fritz for several years to develop nationally recognized suicide prevention programs.”

Even though the project is still in its infancy, Scott is excited about the possibilities. “We are creating the beginnings of a larger project that can provide evaluated training and education to strengthen programming in the suicide prevention field.”

“We look forward to working with a variety of partners to provide important and validated resources for education and use by students, professionals and the general community to have a positive effect on preventing suicide,” noted Fritz. “We also hope this project also will have a positive effect on [Monmouth University] social work students, who will likely be exposed to suicide after beginning their practice. And that’s another way this project can really make a difference: providing our social workers with tools that can be life-saving.”

For more information on the SRF Suicide Prevention Research and Training Project, contact the Monmouth University School of Social Work at 732-571-3543.