Thank You, Cornell Students!

Cornell University students from six campus organizations spent two weeks in October supporting the 7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest and the Cupcake Button fundraising campaign for mental health.

Participating groups included Cornell Circle K, Alpha Phi Omega, Phi Sigma Pi, PATCH (Pre-Professional Association Toward Careers in Health), Cornell Health International, and Reflect at Cornell.

In remarks at the cupcake contest awards ceremony on October 15, Max Fante, a Cornell Circle K leader, thanked Ithaca mental health providers for supporting student wellbeing.

“Students around the world are constantly struggling, with worries of failure and disappointment,” he said. “Without any direction or help, they find themselves lost. The young mind is especially fragile, as we are taking our experiences, and shaping how we respond to stress and decision making in the future. Your support for such an important cause is critical for students.”

Cupcake Contest: The Morning Crew

Fante and his fellow student volunteers spent the first two weeks of October raising funds for the Finger Lakes affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The annual Cupcake Button campaign is coordinated by The Sophie Fund to support mental health organizations in the greater Ithaca community.

At the contest, also organized by The Sophie Fund, the student volunteers set up the venue, ran contest registration, served as preliminary-round judges, created special award certificates, and cleaned the event space afterwards.

Cupcake Contest: The Afternoon Crew

“We are immensely grateful for the support of Cornell student organizations,” said Scott MacLeod, co-founder of The Sophie Fund. “The students are fantastic advocates for mental health on campus, and their efforts to raise money supports the vital work of Ithaca community mental health organizations. And, the student volunteers help us make the cupcake contest a mental health awareness event every year.”

Cupcake Contest: Members of the Phi Sigma Pi team

Cupcake Contest: That’s a Wrap!

Be Safe at College!

A dark and often hidden side of student life is the prevalence of sexual assault. Know the resources for keeping yourself and others safe, supporting victims, and holding perpetrators accountable.

DOWNLOAD: Be Safe at College Resources

According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), college women aged 18-24 are at three times greater risk of sexual violence. Among undergraduate students, 26.4 percent of females and 6.8 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, RAINN statistics show.

Check out RAINN’s Staying Safe on Campus webpage for important advice that may make a world of difference in your college experience.

Here is contact information concerning sexual assault for students studying in Tompkins County:

SUPPORT

Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Free, confidential, local support and advocacy for survivors, friends, and families around domestic or dating violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse.

Hotline (607) 277-5000

Office (607) 277-3203

Instagram: @advocacytc

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network(RAINN)

RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and provides programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Hotline 24/7 (800) 656-HOPE

Online (English)

Online (en español)

Instagram: @rainnn

GET INVOLVED

Sexual Violence Prevention Network (Cornell University)

Student organization helps victims and survivors and promotes equity in relationships through events, campaigns, and partnerships.

svpnetwork.cornell@gmail.com

Instagram: @svpn_cu

IC Strike (Ithaca College)

Student organization dedicated to education, activism, tangible change,and allyship for survivors of sexual assault and violence.

icstrike@ithaca.edu

Instagram: @icstrike

EMERGENCY

911 Ithaca Police Assistance

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Cornell University

Cornell Police (607) 255-1111

Cornell Health & CAPS (607) 255-5155

Victim Advocacy (607) 255-1212

Title IX Office (607) 255-2242

Student Conduct (607) 255-4680

Ithaca College

Campus Police (607) 274-3353

CAPS (607) 274-3136

Title IX Office (607) 274-7761

Student Conduct (607) 274-3375

Tompkins Cortland Community College

Campus Police (607) 844-6511

Counseling (607) 844-6577

Title IX Office (607) 844-4440

Student Conduct (607) 844-8222 x6591

Are You Safe on Campus?

It’s the start of a new academic year, and colleges are brimming with exciting academic challenges and social opportunities. A dark and often hidden side of student life, however, is the prevalence of sexual assault.

DOWNLOAD: Be Safe at College Resources

According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, and college women aged 18-24 are at three times greater risk of sexual violence.

Among undergraduate students, 26.4 percent of females and 6.8 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, RAINN statistics show.

“College campuses can give you a sense of security, a feeling that everyone knows each other and watches out for one another,” RAINN says. “There are perpetrators who take advantage of this feeling of safety and security to commit acts of sexual violence.”

Check out RAINN’s Staying Safe on Campus webpage for important advice that may make a world of difference in your college experience.

“As bystanders, students can learn ways of stepping in to prevent crimes like sexual assault from occurring. When it comes to personal safety, there are steps you can take as well. No tips can absolutely guarantee safety—sexual violence can happen to anyone, and it’s not the only crime that can occur on a college campus. It’s important to remember that if you are sexually assaulted on campus it is not your fault—help and support are available.”

RAINN’s college webpage includes sections on increasing on-campus safety; protecting yourself in social settings; feeling safe after an assault; and additional resources for specifically for students.

Here is contact information concerning sexual assault for students studying in Tompkins County:

Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Local support for survivors, friends, and families of domestic violence and sexual assault

Office (607) 277-3203

Hotline (607) 277-5000

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and provides programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Hotline (800) 656-HOPE

Online (English) (en español)

Cornell University

Cornell Police (607) 255-1111

Cornell Health & CAPS (607) 255-5155

Victim Advocacy (607) 255-1212

Title IX Office (607) 255-2242

Student Conduct (607) 255-4680

Ithaca College

Campus Police (607) 274-3353

CAPS (607) 274-3136

Title IX Office (607) 274-7761

Student Conduct (607) 274-3375

Tompkins Cortland Community College

Campus Police (607) 844-6511

Counseling (607) 844-6577

Title IX Office (607) 844-4440

Student Conduct (607) 844-8222 x6591

Parent’s Guide to College Student Mental Health

Dear Parents: Sending kids off to college is an exciting experience. Naturally, our focus is on the wonderful opportunities they will have, as we look with pride upon their promising passage into adulthood. But these stressful times require parents to also fully grasp the serious mental health challenges their students may face, and be equipped to provide support.

What do parents need to know?

Though some may hide or downplay it, rates of depression and anxiety are high among college students. Many students carry suicidal thoughts. Sexual assault is prevalent among college students. Hazing violence as an initiation rite at fraternities and some student organizations is a serious problem. All of these conditions pose greater risks for students who arrive on campus already with a mental health disorder.

College psychological counseling centers are typically overwhelmed by demands for appointments, and navigating community mental health services and insurance coverage can exacerbate the stress.

In short, student mental health can be a complicated matter, and failing to deal with it adequately can lead to serious consequences.

The Sophie Fund has updated a guide to help parents—especially those whose children are attending college in Ithaca—better understand the challenges:

DOWNLOAD: A Parent’s Guide to College Student Mental Health (PDF)

New Step Toward “Zero Suicide” in Tompkins County

Top healthcare leaders in Tompkins County have agreed to form a steering committee to drive local implementation of the Zero Suicide Model, an emerging standard designed to save lives by closing gaps in the suicide care offered by and across healthcare providers.

Zero Suicide roundtable participants, July 20

The move came during “Zero Suicide Roundtable: A Discussion on Best Practices in Suicide Prevention with Tompkins County Healthcare Leaders,” hosted on July 20 at the Statler Hotel by The Sophie Fund and Tompkins County Mental Health Services.

The two-hour roundtable was moderated by Jenna Heise, director of Suicide Prevention Implementation at the Office of Mental Health’s Suicide Prevention Center of New York.

The 13 roundtable participants represented Cayuga Medical Center, Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, Tompkins County Health Department, Tompkins County Mental Health Services, Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca, Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service, Cornell University, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and The Sophie Fund.

The leaders’ agreement is a step toward fulfilling Goal 2 of the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition’s 2022-2025 Strategic Plan, adopted last February, which calls for “quality improvement for suicide care in all Tompkins County healthcare and behavioral health settings.”

The strategic plan’s Objective 2.3 calls for the formation of a “Zero Suicide Work Group comprised of leading health and mental health providers to share ideas, experiences, and challenges, and lead collaborative, sustainable efforts to implement the Zero Suicide Model throughout Tompkins County.”

Harmony Ayers-Friedlander, deputy commissioner of Tompkins County Mental Health Services, introduced Heise to the gathering “as we renew our commitment to the implementation of the Zero Suicide Model in our community, within, and across, our healthcare settings.” She noted that the county’s Suicide Prevention Coalition was launched exactly five years earlier with the vision of “a community where no lives are lost to suicide.”

Addressing the healthcare leaders, Ayers-Friedlander added:

“Your presence here today serves as a reminder of just how important this work is. Zero Suicide works. Because it gives us hope that we can make a difference, direction through a systems-based framework when faced with the complexity of human suffering, and real tools that help us at each step of the way. Today is a time to evaluate where we are individually as institutions and collectively as a community in preventing suicide through this model.”

Jenna Heise, director of New York State’s Suicide Prevention Implementation, moderates a Zero Suicide leadership roundtable

Heise opened the roundtable with a brief overview of the Zero Suicide Model and then walked participants through a discussion on the model’s seven elements: leadership, training, screening and assessment, care planning, treatment, transition of care, and quality improvement.

“The foundational belief of Zero Suicide is that individuals in our care, on our watch, need not die by suicide, and that suicide is actually preventable for those in care,” Heise said. “The way that happens is that suicide prevention and suicide care become a core priority for health and behavioral health. We have not done a good job of that, frankly.”

“We need to have that leadership commitment,” Heise said. Under the model, she explained, a leadership commitment creates a “just culture” for suicide care that relies on systemic use of best practices rather than leaving suicide prevention to individual health workers.

“It has to be looked at as a systems problem,” she said. “For too long, we have left it to the crisis team or to one outstanding individual clinician or social worker, and our systems, or the newest person, the greenest person straight out of school, who had no schooling in suicide.”

Citing examples of successful implementation of Zero Suicide, such as in the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan, Heise added: “It is an aspirational goal but it is quite attainable. There are folks that have done this work and committed to it, and followed this framework in implementing the seven elements, and they have shown that you could significantly reduce the suicides, by rate and number, within your healthcare organization.”

Heise commended Tompkins County’s approach to creating a “safer suicide community, wrapped around health and behavioral healthcare, including partners on board like the health department, behavioral health, large health systems, universities, higher ed, and so forth. That’s where you start to really see impact, everybody speaking the same language, using the same tools, the same best practices, the same framework. This is very exciting.”

Participants shared their experiences with various aspects of suicide prevention measures within their systems. They noted the importance of cross-system coordination and integration for suicide care, the challenge of staffing, and a desire for greater suicide-specific training. Several participants noted their continuous quality improvement efforts in suicide care but said they did not follow the Zero Suicide Model per se.

The Sophie Fund provided participants with a packet of materials about the Zero Suicide Model and previous suicide prevention efforts that have been undertaken in Tompkins County. The packet included the following items:

Zero Suicide Organizational Self-Study

Transforming Systems for Safer Care

Quick Start Guide to Getting Started with Zero Suicide

“Vital Signs: Suicide rising across the US,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“Changes in Suicide Rates United States, 2018–2019,” MMWR, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Sentinel Event Alert Issue 56: Detecting and treating suicide ideation in all settings, The Joint Commission

National Patient Safety Goal for suicide prevention, The Joint Commission

Three-Year Strategic Plan 2022-2025, Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition

Resolution 2018-155, Suicide Prevention Coalition Zero Suicide Initiative, Tompkins County Legislature

The Watershed Declaration

Mental Health Support and Crisis Services Tompkins County, The Sophie Fund

“Health Care Contacts in the Year Before Suicide Death,” Journal of General Internal Medicine, by Brian K. Ahmedani, et al.

“Suicide Prevention: An Emerging Priority For Health Care,” Health Affairs, by Michael F. Hogan and Julie Goldstein Grumet

The roundtable was the fifth and final session of a Zero Suicide initiative launched by The Sophie Fund last November. Previous events included:

 “Call to Action: Suicide Prevention in Healthcare,” an expert briefing on the Zero Suicide Model for Tompkins County healthcare leaders, on November 16 by Jenna Heise, Director of Suicide Prevention Implementation at the Suicide Prevention Center of New York.

“Understanding, Identifying, and Addressing Suicide Risk: A Clinical Primer for Behavioral Health Providers,” on March 9 by The Wellness Institute

“Implementation of Zero Suicide,” a suicide prevention presentation for front line managers, on March 24 by Tammy Weppelman, State Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

“Zero Suicide: Best Practices for Primary Care,” on June 16 by Virna Little, Co-Founder and CEO of Concert Health.

If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 (or 1-800-273-8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.