Violence and Suicide Prevention Initiative

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Violence & Suicide Prevention

Initiative


According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10-24. The number one person that a student will turn to, to help a friend who might be suicidal, is a teacher.

“In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.� Henri J. M. Nouwen


The Violence and Suicide Prevention Initiative at San Francisco State The Violence and Suicide Prevention Initiative (VSPI) is a research and intervention project based at the College of Ethnic Studies’ César E. Chávez Institute.The project consists of a comprehensive, cost-effective intervention to reduce violence, aggression and depression among vulnerable student populations while increasing their self-efficacy, wellbeing, and social adjustment skills. VSPI is structured as a 4-credit semester-long field study class, ETHS675, using a participant/observer model. It is led by mental health professionals, scholars, and community members. The curriculum fosters students’ resilience by strengthening protective factors including social support, competence, self-knowledge, self-esteem, emotional intelligence, anger management, and healthy attachments. Participants experience a shift in awareness, attitudes and behaviors that promote greater self-understanding and ameliorate the increasing trend of violence and suicide. Ultimately, this class seeks to advance the teaching of non-violence and reduce social injustice while improving academic achievement and cultivating a more beneficial university experience and culture.


Too many college students are burdened by stress, anxiety, competitive environments, family and financial pressures, as well as adjustment and attachment problems. The number of college students on psychiatric medicines is increasing. Students whose emotional and mood disorders were effectively managed in high school suddenly find themselves in an environment with few familiar faces, supports or services, and often lack the necessary coping skills. One in four students who visit a university health center for routine care reports being depressed, and every 10th student reports having suicidal thoughts. Teens diagnosed with depression are five times more likely to attempt suicide than adults. Many college students experience some form of violence or harassment, including teasing, namecalling, stalking, vandalism, physical assault, sexual assault, and other forms of interpersonal violence as well as suicide. Almost a quarter of college women will be raped during their college years.

Today’s college stude experience high rates depression, self-destr behavior and suicida


ents s of ructive al ideation.

Student comments on the VSPI class It has been a great learning experience – learning about ourselves and our mind – it isnt something I’ve done before. I now want to learn to focus on my wellbeing so I can be more kind, and more successful in school and life. I usually feel relief from stress, and a little more knowledgeable about myself. This learning experience has been very positive! Everything we have learned has a positive outcome. The classes help me get through my week, I feel happier and balanced. I look forward to coming to class. I want to find out how to teach this to others. The class has taught me how to be happy and calm. I want to find out more about healthy habits, especially meditation. Gratitude! In this class I am the focus – how I am doing, how to improve situations. I leave class happy.


The Violence and Suicide Prevention intervention is conducted as a 3-phase class that meets once a week for three hours. Students are encouraged to attend all three phases of the class which will span three semesters. Each class will begin at the start of the Fall and Spring semesters. Phase one of the class focuses on self-esteem and emotional intelligence. Phase Two focuses on anger-management strategies. Phase Three focuses on building and maintaining healthy relationships. The program is comprised of a variety of structured, hands-on workshops led by expert facilitators in each field of psychological health, including selfesteem, emotional intelligence, positive communication, active listening, journaling, and meditation techniques. Opportunities for physical activity, designed to boost spirits and affect include instruction Linear Progression Training and are complemented by workshops on nutrition and healthy eating. Structured arts activities promote selfexpression and the universality of human creativity.

Student comments on the VSPI class I learned how to love myself. I’m capable of lowering my stress level which helps me to be more productive and to take care of my emotional and mental state. When you have a professor who is always positive, you have no choice but to be positive. This class helps me prepare for my life, not only physically but mentally. The positivity behind each lesson can be implemented in every day life. I been having a rough semester and this class has given me positive learning experiences to get me through each week. She makes each student realize their worth.

I feel relaxed after completing each session. I feel that my mind is at peace and that I left my worries in class. This class focuses on ourselves. It’s surprising how much positive energy I can get out of it. I want to learn to focus on my wellbeing so I can be more kind and successful in school and life in general.


Dr. Cherie Safapou

holds a Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology from Western American University. Her practice includes over 18 years as a psychological assistant, personal consultant, life coach, and motivational specialist. She founded Wise Wishes Retreat, a series of empowerment, awareness, and development workshops. Cherie co-founded the VSPI at San Francisco State.

Daniel Jahangard

holds a BS degree in Psychology and Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. Daniel is a Consultant VSPI Instructor. He is also a Level I and Level II CrossFit Trainer, CrossFit Kids Trainer, Sports and Performance Coach, and has competed the CrossFit Weightlifting Course.

Dr. Kenneth P. Monteiro

received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in Experimental Psychology with a specialization in Cognitive Psychology. Dr. Monteiro was Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies (CoES) at San Francisco State. He is currently Acting Director of the CĂŠsar E. ChĂĄvez Instiute at the CoES. Dr. Monteiro cofounded the VSPI and is its Principal Investigator. Publications Safapou, Cherie, R. (January 5, 2019) The Violence and Suicide Prevention Initiative, 17th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Education, (ID# 1092) Honolulu Safapou, Cherie, R. (2104) I Am Saam, San Bernardino, CA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing ISBN-10: 1493600958, ISBN-13: 978-1493600953


Dr. Cherie Safapou, Investigator 415-686-3807 • safapou@sfsu.edu • cci.sfsu.edu/vspi Office Hours by appointment Ethnic Studies & Psychology Building, Suite EP406 César E. Chávez Institute

César E. Chávez Institute • San Francisco State 1600 Holloway Avenue, EP406 • San Francisco CA 94132 cci.sfsu.edu • cci@sfsu.edu


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