Book by Deborah Taub & Jason Robertson
Review by Dr. Christine R. Cook
School of Education
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Suicide is a challenging and frightening experience for professionals in the helping fields (Albert, Ianna, & Kenneth, 2008; Reeves, 2004). Cukrowicz and colleagues (2011) state that the rate of suicide is 6.5 per 100,000 students, and is the “second leading cause of death on college campuses” (p. 575). Given these statistics, it is likely that professionals working with college students will at some point in their career be affected by a student suicide. In Preventing College Student Suicide: New Directions for Student Services, Number 141 (2013), Deborah Taub and Jason Robertson edit seven chapters related to the issue of suicide prevention on the college campus. The book begins with a general overview of the problem, reviews possible approaches to the issue, then looks more closely at specific target populations, before ending with a discussion of post-suicide intervention options.
Different authors write each chapter in the book and therefore there is some redundancy throughout, particularly statistics regarding suicide rates and the connection to mental illness on college campuses. Although this information is helpful, the repeat of facts was somewhat tedious. Each chapter did do a nice job of defining terms, and therefore it was easy to negotiate the text despite the different focus areas and author styles.
Chapter 3, Gatekeeper Training in Campus Suicide Prevention (Wallak, Servaty-Seib, Taub, 2013) appeared particularly relevant for advisors. This chapter illustrated a campus prevention program targeting gatekeepers – “a gatekeeper is broadly defined as any individual who has the potential to come into contact with at-risk students” (p. 27). As advisors are often working with academically at-risk students, they certainly fit this role. The chapter outlined a five-step model for targeting and training gatekeepers to help in the early identification of suicidal students. Advisors may not be involved in developing or providing this training, but it would behoove them to determine if a program such as this is available on their campus to assist them in identifying students with potential suicidal ideation and referring them to appropriate available services.
One of the most beneficial aspects of the book is the reference to various suicide prevention materials. There is a helpful table of resources in chapter 2, a web link for a multicultural suicide prevention kit in chapter 6, and an example of a post-suicide intervention protocol in chapter 7. The final chapter ends with a list of website resources including the Jed Foundation and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, which are referenced throughout the book. Although some of the websites are no longer active, it provides a good starting point for advisors wanting further information regarding college student suicide. If you are interested in looking at potential prevention programs, then this book provides a good glimpse into the options, but if specific skills are sought to deal with a suicidal student, then this is not the book for you.
Albert R., R., Ianna, M., & Kenneth R., Y. (2008). Avoiding malpractice lawsuits by following risk
assessment and suicide prevention guidelines. Brief Treatment & Crisis Intervention, 8(1), 5.
Cukrowicz, K. C., Schlegel, E. F., Smith, P. N., Jacobs, M. P., Van Orden, K. A., Paukert, A. L., & ...
Joiner, T. E. (2011). Suicide ideation among college students evidencing subclinical depression.
Journal Of American College Health, 59(7), 575-581.
Reeves, A. (2004). When a client seems suicidal. Healthcare Counselling & Psychotherapy Journal, 4(4),
Preventing College Student Suicide: New Directions for Student Services, Number 141. (2013). Book by Deborah Taub & Jason Robertson (Eds.). Review by Dr. Christine R. Cook. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 112 pp. $29.00 (paperback). ISBN # 978-1-1186-9843-1