The University of Louisville will launch a new training and awareness program in the spring to better prepare the campus community to respond to and assist students considering suicide.

The program, Cards SPEAK (Suicide Prevention, Education, Awareness and Knowledge), is funded by a $297,499 Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

UofL is one of only 22 schools in the nation to receive a grant this cycle.

“The University of Louisville is committed to helping students identify and apply the most appropriate campus services and activities that support their retention and graduation,” said Dean of Students Michael Mardis. “Cards SPEAK is intended to enhance existing efforts as we work collectively to provide services to our students that assist with their mental health needs.”

The grant will allow the university to hire a position to coordinate a streamlined assistance and response effort, and raise awareness about available training for the campus community and existing resources available for those dealing with mental health issues or considering suicide. The program will also allow for a focus on at-risk student populations, and promote families’ understanding and response of their students’ distress.

Cards SPEAK will work in collaboration with existing suicide prevention programs that departments have already implemented.

Cards SPEAK is a collaboration among the Dean of Students Office, Campus Health Services, Belknap Counseling Center and Campus Housing, among others. The program has an advisory council of representatives from across the university’s three campuses, including those departments listed above as well as representatives from Health Sciences Campus, LGBT Center, Office of Military and Veterans Services, Athletics, A&S Advising, Kent School of Social Work, BRICC and Active Minds.  The group includes faculty, staff and students. Geri Morgan, student care manager in the Dean of Students Office, Bryan L. Shelangoski, associate director in Campus Housing, and Sarah Deitz, EEO – Employee Relations Specialist in Human Resources, led the effort to secure the grant.

Morgan said in the three years she’s worked as the student care manager, she’s seen an increase in reports of suicide ideation among students, and more students are looking for advice on how to help their friends who have become distressed to the point of making suicidal comments. She said the grant, and the changes it can help bring, could not come at a better time.

“We hope that more people will be aware. They will recognize a student in the classroom, or a student worker in their office, their hallmate, or sorority sister or fraternity brother, who is struggling,” Morgan said. “And they’ll be able to provide them information about how the university is here to help.”

The grant will also fund a new computer program, Kognito, an-evidence based training program with modules available for students, faculty and staff. Early training will focus on those living in campus housing, then residents of affiliate properties, and later to student organizations and employees. The goal is for 80 percent of the campus community to have received some sort of training in suicide prevention.

For more information on Cards SPEAK, contact student care manager Geri Morgan at 852-5787 or

Brandy Warren
Brandy Warren is coordinator for marketing and communications in UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing, where she manages special events and promotes UofL’s Division of Student Affairs. She previously worked at daily newspapers in Kentucky and Alabama.