ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people aged 15-24 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). College students are among those known to be at especially high risk.

“To protect college students’ mental health, it is critical to ensure that students know how to access resources to help them if they are struggling,” a spokesperson for UAlbany said in an emailed statement, “and eliminate barriers to receiving care, including stigma around receiving help.”

Researchers in the college’s Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research in the School of Education have received a $306,000, three-year grant to undertake a new project aimed at reducing the risk for suicide and substance use among UAlbany students experiencing health disparities.

Led by Center Director and Senior Research Scientist M. Dolores Cimini and Senior Research Associate Jessica L. Martin, the team will develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive suicide prevention program with a special focus on students from historically marginalized backgrounds. The work is a new branch of Project ACCESS, which stands for “Achieving College Completion through Engaged Support Services.” The first phase of the project was funded in fall 2021 and established a five-year program focused on HIV prevention.

“This new funding will allow us to expand Project ACCESS to offer support to students at highest risk for suicide and substance use, particularly those who have been historically marginalized,” said Cimini. “Through careful screening, educational programming and referral to specialized support services, our goal is to help students take full advantage of the opportunities available to them at UAlbany, achieve graduation, continue progress toward advanced study and entry into the workforce, and experience health and enhanced quality of life.”

The new work is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant Program. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression, call the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline or (800) 273-TALK.