Garret Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant by SAMHSA

Washington State University has been awarded a three-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant is designed to support various mental health initiatives at WSU. Current programs under this grant include comprehensive training sessions for faculty and staff, covering a variety of topics related to mental health, including programs such as Mental Health First Aid and Campus Connect. Additionally, WSU is implementing Peer Health Education programs to enhance mental health awareness and support on campus. Various media awareness projects are also part of the initiative, designed to ensure we are reaching students from all campuses. This inclusive approach aims to promote mental health awareness and support across the diverse settings within the university community.

Why is this important?

National College Health Assessment II (NCHA) data collected on our flagship campus (WSU Pullman) in 2020, showed that 10.6% of students have had a plan at least once to kill themselves in the last 12 months. This number has risen over the past 10 years of data collection citing 4.6% in 2010. Additionally, 2.4% of students in 2020 have attempted to kill themselves with intent to die in the last 12 months compared to 1.1% in 2010.

While we have not previously had similar data collected across the WSU system, we do know that WSU students are spread throughout various rural locations across the state. Rural communities consistently have challenges with isolation, barriers to care, and stigma. Students rely on local community resources which further emphasizes the need for access to mental health access, substance use treatment, and suicide prevention programming. 

Grant Goals

  1. Establish a WSU system-wide approach to promote mental health and emotional well-being, prevent suicide and substance misuse, and to support identification and referral of at-risk students.
  2. Implement systematic data collection and evaluation efforts to inform strategic planning, implementation, and sustainability.
  3. Increase system-wide availability of mental health promotion, suicide prevention, and substance misuse programs and services for students, with attention to identified high-risk and historically under-served populations.
  4. Implement a comprehensive communication strategy to increase awareness of support resources, decrease stigma, and promote training/education opportunities.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with a mission to enhance the nation's behavioral health. SAMHSA focuses on advancing mental health, preventing substance misuse, and delivering treatments and support for individuals with mental and substance use disorders.