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Tuscarawas News Detail

Student Project on Suicide Prevention Earns Innovator of the Year Award

Posted Sep. 2, 2013

Online platform offers a comprehensive look at college suicide and aims to eliminate stigma surrounding mental illness

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Kent State University's Web Programming for Multimedia
Journalism class created an award-winning project that
explores the complex issues relating to college suicide.

Students from Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and School of Digital Sciences won the Associated Press Media Editors’ (APME) Innovator of the Year for College Students award for a class project that examines issues surrounding college suicide.

The APME is an association of editors at newspapers, broadcast outlets and journalism educators and student leaders in the United States and Canada who work closely with the Associated Press to foster journalism excellence.

Twenty-one students enrolled in the Web Programming for Multimedia Journalism class this past spring created “Campus Lifeline: A Report on College Suicide,” which combines in-depth articles, infographics and data-driven interactives to explore the complex issues relating to college suicide. Since September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the students hope that by creating this project, future tragedies will be prevented by openly discussing suicide.

“Campus Lifeline” was a collaborative effort with journalism students researching and writing stories, and programming and design students creating the look, feel and functionality of the project’s platform at www.campuslifeline.com.

The students examined why data on college suicide is underreported and unreliable, the struggles of at-risk groups of students, including returning veterans and international students, gun control as a suicide-prevention method, the role of social media as both an aid and a threat to suicide prevention, and offered recommendations on how to reduce suicides and improve the overall mental health of college students.

The course was taught by Kent State Associate Professor Jacqueline Marino and Assistant Professor Sue Zake, both from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Josh Talbott, senior media specialist in the College of Communication and Information.

“Journalism and mass communication faculty involved with ‘Campus Lifeline’ recognize the importance of this achievement and its impact on students,” says Marino. “I'm thrilled that the APME recognized this project. College suicide as a public health issue is rarely covered, and our students covered it in an innovative way. Good things happen when you put journalists, designers and programmers together in the classroom.”

Through “Campus Lifeline,” the students sought to create awareness and proffer solutions to an often stigmatized issue on college campuses. As part of the project, the students collected data and consulted with psychiatrists, researchers, crisis-intervention specialists and family members of college students who have died by suicide.

“The great thing about this project and this course is that it combines the work of multiple disciplines – journalism, digital science, visual communication design – and requires students to work together to figure out how to make it all work. This is exactly what students will experience in the real world,” Zake says.

The Web Programming for Multimedia Journalism course will be offered again in spring 2014.

For more information about the “Campus Lifeline” project, visit www.campuslifeline.com.

For more information about Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, visit www.kent.edu/jmc.

For more information about Kent State’s School of Digital Sciences, visit www.kent.edu/dsci.

For more information about the Associated Press Media Editors, visit www.apme.com.