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No suicides this spring using same protocol

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 01:05


In past semesters, the UNH community has been shaken by the suicides of fellow students. However, this spring semester may be the first term in quite a while where UNH has not suffered the loss of a community member to suicide. 

“Last year was an unusual year in terms of numbers of suicide,” Scott Chesney, director of Residential Life, said. “I believe that Dr. Cross of the UNH Counseling Center would say that over an extended period of years, we have averaged about one … suicide per year.”

Each year, the entire UNH residential staff is prepared for situations involving suicide by participating in a training session with Dr. David Cross, either prior to students arriving or within the early weeks of the semester. Cross has been an excellent resource and has been providing this training for years, Chesney said. 

While the unusual number of suicides came as a surprise to the UNH campus in 2010 and 2011, Chesney said that the same protocol has always been in place, and promoting awareness and providing support to faculty and students has always been the focused goal.

“We did nothing additional this year,” Chesney said. 

The UNH Behavior Intervention Team (BIT), led by Dr. Anne Lawing, dean of students, Chesney and other members have been specially trained to identify individuals that may show early signs of wanting to cause self-harm. The group meets every other week to identify and discuss options for such students. 

In the event that a student is reportedly in distress, Lawing, chair of the BIT, works with colleagues such as Chesney and Paul Dean, executive director of public safety, on a 24/7 basis, including on holidays. 

“Most often they are the first responders to any calls for service, and these can happen on any date and at any time,” Lawing said. “I don’t think of our work as prevention, but more as risk reduction.”

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