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December 11, 1981 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-12-11

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RA,RD key to suicide prevention

I II i


They are the key to suicide preven-
tion in the residence halls - and they
are under constant pressure.
"The dorm staff is in a hell of a
position - they are the bridge between
the person in need and the professional
resources," said University counselor
Evelyn Gauthier.
"WE TRY to provide as many props
under the bridges as possible, (but)
RAs do need more support," Gauthier
"Many students are under a lot of
stress, and it's hard on the staff," said
Housing Director Robert Hughes.
RAs and RDs are expected to develop
enough close contact with students on
their hall so that they can recognize
when a student needs help or shows
behavioral changes and signals that
may indicate a student is suicidal.
"I'm worried if the University
depends on us to be the only interven-
tion," South Quad RD Michele Blondin
said. "The resident staff does as good a
job as they can - we constantly look -
but we're also students, too. The
University can't depend entirely on
"THERE IS no cookbook formula" to
deal with a possibly suicidal student,
since each case is situational, said Hill
Area Director Kathy Beauvais, but the
dorm staff is given training in suicide
prevention, intervention and peer coun-
Training is not done in the same way
for all the dorms, however. "Every
building does it differently,,'' Beauvais
said. In general, though, what the staff
learns is the same throughout the

Hughes said there has been an "effort
during the last few years to do more
joint training" between the dorms. "I
think we'll continue to see more of this
to make sure the majority of staff have
the same training experiences," he
ton said, "Each situation is unique -
staff members have to keep cool heads
and use good judgement."
Beauvais, other area directors, and
dorm directors said that when an RA is
aware a student may need help, or a
student's concerned friends come to the
RA, he or she should try to encourage
the student to go to Counseling Ser-
RAs are not expected to be
professional counselors, and are told
not to try to handle the problem alone.
They should contact their RD, the dorm
director, and Counseling Services for
help, especially if the student is
refusing to go to a counselor.
MARKLEY RD Judy Howe said, "I,
offer to go with them (to counseling) if
they want. I like to refer them to
someone who has been recommended
to me by another RA or RD.
"If I notice someone who is acting dif-
ferently, I try to build up some kind of
trusting relationship with them. You
can't just go up and say, 'I think you
need counseling.' You could be wrong,
maybe they just have a lot of studying
to do. I try to get to know them to see if
there really is a problem to begin
with," Howe said.
If an attempt is made, the staff gets
immediate medical attention for the
student. When an attempt is made but
is not serious, Psychiatric Emergency
will send a counselor to the dorm if the

student refuses to go for help.
"WE TRY TO provide more support
for the housing staff," said Dr. Bruce
Greyson, chief of Psychiatric
Emergency. "They know they can call
us 24 hours a day."
After a student attempts suicide, the
dorm staff, the student's friends, and
other hall residents may feel respon-
sible, depressed, or upset, counselors
and dorm directors say. The directors
say they encourage the staff and other
students to talk to a counselor about it,
and in some cases group counseling
sessions are conducted for the hall.
Gauthier has conducted suicide
prevention workshops for dormitory
staff and students for the last three'
years. A workshop is scheduled when
the dorm director or staff requests it,
she said, and so far this term she has
conducted five workshops aimed at
resident staff and two for students.
THE WORKSHOP consists of the
film, College Can Be Killing, followed
by' an informal discussion on how to
recognize depression and suicidal risk,
to approach and help someone, and to
encourage them to seek counseling.
One problem staff and directors must
deal with is when a student who haste
made an attempt returns to the dorm.
"If an attempt is made, nine times out
of 10 the student will be returning,"
Beauvais said.
Counselors and staff try to prepare
other students for the return, Beauvais

Robert Hughes
. says stress hard on staff'
said. Gauthier said many times the re-
entering student may "have a tendency.
to become isolated or be distanced"
from the other hall residents, who also,
may feel uncomfortable about the:
student's return.
"Maybe what the University needs toi
do is set up a halfway house, so the'
student is out of the emergency:
situation but not just plopped back into'.
the dorm," said Psychology Professor'
Donald Brown.

P"114k, *f"*t4/l

life into divestment



76913e most erc ng
n their world- was m oy

(Continued from Page 1)
largely to a lack of membership con-
tinuity, a problem many student
organizations face, Gottfried laid. She
said many of the organizers left town
and the issue of apartheid fell out of the
nation's eye. "Rejuvenation" became a
problem, she said.
Problems in Latin America have
stolen the spotlight from South Africa,
and students are turning their atten-
tions to El Salvador and Nicaragua in-
stead, Gottfried added.
of the University's Comrpittee on
Southern Africa, agreed with Got-
tfried's remarks. Much of the activism
in the late '70s was sparked by events in
South Africa itself, such as-the Soweto
race riots of 1976, he said.{
But as South Africa was displaced by
other issues on "the 7 o'clock news,"
people becanme more interested in new
problems, he said.
In 1978, the University committed it-
self to investing only in companies that
abided by the Sullivan Principles, a set
of fair labor guidelines for blacks adop-
ted by many U.S. companies. But the
protesters criticized the action. as
inadequate and demanded the Univer-
sity completely divest.
THE REGENTS have stuck to their
1978 guidelines, and the University still
holds the majority of the investments it
had previously. So far, the University
has sold off its holdings from one com-
pany that did not comply with the
Sullivan guidelines.

Bargain Matinees
Before .m.
KI iSNo $ Tuesday

The remainder of the companies are
under continuous review to see that
they are making progress in improving
conditions for their black employees in
South Africa, according to James
Brinkerhoff, University Vice President'
and chief financial officer.
Although the University's resolution
on the issue was not sufficient to the
student protesters, Gottfried said by
the fall of 1980, "it became very clear
that the University's intransigence was
going to continue so we decided to go to
the legislature."
THE STATE legislature has respon-
ded by passing one measure that
prohibits the deposit of state funds in
financial institutions that extend loans
to the government of South Africa or to
South African operations of American
Two other measures, however, have
yet to make it to the House or Senate
floor. One of them, sponsored by Rep.
Perry Bullard (D-Ann Arbor), would
bar state educational institutions (in-
cluding the University) from investing
in corporations operating in South
Bullard, who will speak at today's
rally, said he expects his proposal to
reach the House floor in February.
Brinkerhoff said Bullard's measure'
may be unconstitutional, as the Univer-
sity considers itself an independent
arm of the state and thus the legislature
{ may not have jurisdiction over its fun-
But Bullard disagreed. "(The
University's administrators) don't
think' they're a part of the State of}
Michigan except when they come out
for $150 million in state ap-
Bullard said there's no doubt in his
mind about its constitutionality
because similar measures have been
successful in other states.


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-Archer Winsten, N.Y. POST
-Roger Ebert,






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