According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the third leading cause of death for college students. More than 40 percent of students reporting high levels of anxiety, depression and/or substance abuse do not seek help.

St. Petersburg College recently received a $283,781 grant for the Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention initiative from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This grant will fund Project HEAL (Healthy Emotions and Lives), a collaborative infrastructure targeting suicide prevention and mental health and substance abuse awareness. In addition to SAMHSA contributions, SPC will provide a one-to-one match for the project.

For this project, SPC partnered with organizations such as BayCare, CASA, Metro Wellness, and NAMI to ensure that students have strong community resources.

SPC President Tonjua Williams is committed to expanding the college’s visionary pillar to be a community of care through mental health.

“Our students are faced with many challenges before entering the classroom,” Williams said. “Many of them need additional resources beyond academics and SPC is committed to provide as much additional support as we can. Project HEAL allows SPC to expand our services and help our students to be successful.”

Project HEAL is a three-year grant that will strengthen a community-wide provider network, implement a comprehensive suicide prevention plan and increase awareness of and access to resources for nearly 30,000 SPC students.

It is SPC’s belief that supporting mental health is everyone’s charge, and that one death as a result of substance abuse, mental illness, or suicide is one too many. If you or a loved one is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.