How to save a life

Simple, online training provides tools our community can use to prevent suicide

From the desk of Bill Stackman, vice chancellor of student affairs

Many students (and faculty and staff, for that matter) have never directly dealt with a person considering suicide. When these situations then do present themselves, we can feel helpless and overwhelmed.

This is why Partners in Prevention is developing tools and resources to support positive health and safety behaviors by college students.

I recently spoke with Joan Masters, the senior coordinator of Partners in Prevention, to learn more about their suicide prevention training and how Mizzou faculty, staff and students can use it to be better equipped in helping a friend in crisis.

Bill Stackman: What is “Ask. Listen. Refer.”?

Joan Masters: It is a training program designed to help faculty, staff and students prevent suicide. It helps train people by teaching them to identify people at risk, recognize the risk factors, protective factors, and warning signs of suicide, and respond to and get help for people at risk.

BS: How long does it take? What do I need to do to complete it?

JM: The great thing about this training is that it only takes about 20 minutes to complete. It is not a therapeutic training, but one aimed at educating our community. It does need to be completed in one sitting, but since it is online, it can be completed anywhere.

The training can be found here:

BS: What else should we know about supporting students (or friends) facing crisis?

JM: Talking about suicide can be awkward and uncomfortable. We realize this. It is a subject matter that is often painful for people to discuss. Understanding why and when a person may be at risk and asking the question can help save a life.

BS: What other resources are available to students?

JM: Mizzou has many resources to support students in crisis. MU Counseling Center has therapists on call during business hours to offer help when you are in crisis. Please call The Counseling Center office at 573-882-6601. We also actively promote several national 24-hour hotlines.

Amanda Mehl holds up her tattood wrist.

Stories Behind the Semicolon

Individuals around the world have semicolon tattoos, representing their own experiences with mental illness or their support for others.