Abstract: Suicide Prevention Initiative Campus-Wide Survey Analysis: Attitudes, Confidence, & Knowledge (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

332P Suicide Prevention Initiative Campus-Wide Survey Analysis: Attitudes, Confidence, & Knowledge

Friday, January 14, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Athena Kheibari, PhD, Assistant Professor, Wayne State University, MI
Guijin Lee, PhD, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Kendra Wells, LLMSW, Program/Project Assistant, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Luxie Vang, Project Assistant, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Neva Nahan, MS
Stella Resko, PhD, Associate Professor, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Background and Purpose Suicide rates in the U.S. steadily increased over the past two decades (Kegler, Stone, Holland, 2017), and suicide is still often treated as a stigmatized death. While professional intervention is a necessary element to prevent suicide, improving public perceptions and beliefs about suicide is also a critical element to prevention. Social stigma can contribute to decreased public willingness to intervene and reduced help-seeking by individuals struggling with suicide ideation (Carpiniello & Pinna, 2017; Tal-Young, et al., 2012). The purpose of this study was to examine engagement in campus program activities at an urban university and attitudes, confidence, and knowledge about mental health (MH) and suicide prevention.

Methods Members of the campus community (students, staff, and faculty) at an urban university in the Midwest were recruited to participate in various suicide prevention program activities (e.g., Mental Health First Aid Training, web-based suicide prevention training, guest speakers) and complete a brief survey about their experiences, attitudes, and beliefs (N = 1,476). To identify factors that may influence their attitude, confidence, and knowledge about MH, we conducted multiple regression. Outcome measures included scales assessing: (1) beliefs about MH, (2) knowledge about MH issues, and (3) confidence in intervening during MH crises. Program engagement (high, moderate, or low) and demographics (age, race, gender, student or staff/faculty, field of study/work) were used as independent variables.

Results The sample included 1,044 (75.2%) students and 345 (24.8%) faculty/staff. The majority (75.8%) of the sample was female, with half (50.1%) of respondents being between the ages of 18-24 and 34.9% between the ages 25-44. Most respondents self-identified as White (65.7%), with 12.7% identifying as Asian/Asian American, 11.6% as Black, 7% as Middle Eastern, and 4.4% as Hispanic/Latino.

Multivariate analyses revealed significant associations between program engagement level and the outcome measures. High engagement was associated with more positive attitudes (B = 1.216, p < .001), greater confidence (B = 2.433, p < .001), and knowledge (B = 1.415, p < .001) about MH and suicide issues, as compared to minimal engagement. Moderate engagement was significantly associated with improved attitudes (B = 0.783, p = .006) and greater knowledge (B = 0.888, p = .002). Respondents who identified as Asians/Asian Americans (B = -1.531, p < .001), Black (B = -1.164, p = .002), and male (B = -1.225, p < .001) had lower attitude scores compared to White and female respondents. Older respondents and those in a MH-related line of work/study (B = 2.064, p < .001) reported greater confidence, while men (B = -1.437, p = .005) had lower confidence scores. Faculty/staff had lower knowledge scores as compared to students (B = 0.718, p = .029).

Conclusions and Implications Findings suggest campus-based suicide prevention programs can improve attitudes and beliefs toward MH and suicide. Results also identified factors associated with differences in these outcomes. Additional studies are needed to further explore the multidimensional nature of these prevention programs. Future research can help us better understand how to change attitudes and improve prevention efforts.