Penn College trustees discuss suicide prevention efforts on campus

The Pennsylvania College of Technology staff have been working to raise awareness about suicide prevention across the campus by training 500 students and faculty in a prevention program.

During the board of trustees meeting on Thursday, the members were presented with information about how people at the college are working to save lives.

The program, called Question, Persuade and Refer, began in January to teach people who do not have counseling training to be able to properly react if someone in their life is considering suicide, Mallory L. Weymer, coordinator of student health and wellness education and suicide prevention specialist, said.

Those trained are able to ask people questions, try to persuade them to not end their life and refer them to the college’s counseling services center.

“We teach people it’s OK to talk about suicide,” Weymer said. “We teach people to listen with compassion and without judgment.”

She said the program also educates students about self care and stigma reduction. An important reminder is that mental illnesses are maladies just like physical ones and should be taken just as seriously.

Helping people through suicidal thoughts and mental illness is not easy, she said.

“Hope is what we’re trying to offer people,” Weymer said.

In other business, Dr. Carolyn R. Strickland, vice president for enrollment management and associate provost, reported the college’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program has increased to 15 students this year from three or four before.

Students are a part of the Bison Battalion, which has ROTC students from Lycoming College, Susquehanna University, Bucknell University, Bloomsburg University and Penn College.

She said the ROTC hopes to continue to recruit incoming students.

The meeting was board member Dr. Robert Secor’s final one after serving on the board for 20 years. Replacing him is Dr. Blaine E. Bowen.

Board members present were state Sen. Gene Yaw, state Rep. Garth Everett, Secor, Bowen, Dr. John J. Romano, John M. Young, Dr. Thomas G. Poole, Joseph J. Doncsecz, Lynda M. Livingston, Dr. Robert N. Pangborn and Steve P. Johnson.