Grays Harbor College is partnering with Beyond Survival and Grays Harbor Public Health and Social Services Department to achieve the goals outlined in a recently awarded Suicide Prevention Grant from the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC). This program, funded by the 2018 Washington Legislature, authorized $420,000 to the Suicide Prevention in Higher Education Grant Program through Senate Bill 6514.

Grays Harbor College is one of eight Washington state colleges and universities that received the grant.  The other colleges that received this grant funding included: Central Washington University, Divers Institute of Technology, Everett Community College, Heritage University, Spokane Community College, and Washington State University.

The WSAC Suicide Prevention grant is funding on-campus programming, speakers, and events around suicide awareness and prevention as well as suicide prevention training for faculty and staff.  Beyond Survival has been an active partner in programing, speakers, and events, providing several speakers and trainings on campus related to suicide prevention, sexual assault prevention and awareness, and mental health.

“Grays Harbor College is committed to the health and well-being of our students and community.  Through partnerships with local agencies, we are excited to be able to bring our campus more resources to provide greater holistic support for our students and training for our faculty and staff”, said Dr. Jim Minkler, President of Grays Harbor College.

Through the partnerships developed in the grant, Grays Harbor College is embarking on the development of the HOPE Squad program on its campus in collaboration with Grays Harbor Public Health and Social Services Department and local area high schools and middle schools. Hoquiam School District has already been providing students with a HOPE Squad for the past two years, and Aberdeen School District will implement HOPE Squad in their High School this Fall in addition to Grays Harbor College. “The continuation of the HOPE Squad pipeline from K-12 to higher education will benefit the Grays Harbor community tremendously when it comes to greater awareness around suicide prevention”, said Dr. Jennifer Alt, Vice President for Student Services at Grays Harbor College. 

The HOPE Squad is a school based peer-to-peer suicide prevention program. Students are trained to watch for other students who are demonstrating warning signs, provide friendship, and seek help from adults or professionals. HOPE Squad members are not taught to act as counselors, but are educated on recognizing suicide warning signs and how to connect their peers properly and respectfully with trusted adults or professionals. HOPE Squads seek to reduce self-destructive behaviors and suicide by training, building, and creating change in schools and communities. Grays Harbor College will be hosting its first advisor training and student information sessions about the HOPE Squad on May 22, 2019. For more information, please contact Jennifer Alt at 360-538-4066.