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B-CU Awarded Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant

Bethune-Cookman University recently announced that it has been awarded $102,000 annually for the next three years for the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

Through this grant, B-CU will provide suicide awareness prevention and intervention to the entire campus community, including faculty, staff and students. Programs will include educational seminars, workshops and training opportunities.

Additionally, the University will establish partnerships with Stewart-Marchman Act, Halifax Behavioral Services and other local mental health agencies.

This network of services will be known as Project STEPS - Survival Through Education Prevention and Services.

"This grant is important because it allows us to be intentional about addressing these issues through multiple methodologies," notes Cynthia Polk-Johnson, B-CU's associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students. "Our Counseling Center will serve as the hub for the dissemination of information and dissemination of information and services to faculty, staff, students, parents and local mental health providers."

Project STEPS objectives include:

  • Providing QPR (question, persuade, refer) training to gatekeepers, students and their parents
  • Facilitating educational seminars and cultural diversity workshops to students, their parents, faculty and staff on the myths and stigma associated with suicide and depression
  • Promoting help-seeking behaviors within the student body by replacing the negative attitudes of behavioral health systems held by many African Americans
  • Distributing informational literature on suicide and depression throughout the campus and at organized student activities
  • Strengthening the relationships of off-campus community behavioral health providers
  • Providing educational information to parents on campus, over the internet, through mail and a campus-wide suicide hotline.

To support the grant's initiatives, the B-CU Office of Student Affairs will be hiring two full-time staff members and will train peer educators positions to assist with the grant. The staff positions are posted on B-CU's human resources web page. Visit

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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