Suicide Prevention (MAPS)

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center is a comprehensive resource for information about suicide and mental health issues at

What is MAPS?

MAPS is a Vanderbilt University joint initiative with the Psychological and Counseling Center (PCC) and the Wellness Programs & Alcohol Education designed to prevent suicide in the campus community while promoting mental health awareness. MAPS was funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. government's Department of Health and Human Services.

What does MAPS do?

The goal of MAPS is to work toward suicide prevention and mental health awareness through education and outreach in the campus community. The PCC staff will work with its campus partners throughout Vanderbilt University to provide skills to students, faculty, and staff to identify and assist those in need of help due to mental health concerns.

Why is MAPS important?

MAPS will help address a major public health problem: suicide. Over 30,000 people die by suicide in the United States each year – approximately one person every 18 minutes. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 15-24, the time when most students attend college. There is also a strong association between suicide and mental illness. Suicide is a preventable phenomenon, and MAPS will help in that prevention.

What are some signs that someone may be depressed?

  • Persistent sad or empty mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, and/or worthlessness
  • Disturbance in eating and sleeping patterns (either increases or decreases)
  • Chronic fatigue or loss of pleasure in everyday activities, such as socializing, studying, hobbies, and sex

What are some signs that someone may be contemplating suicide?

  • Writing letters, e-mails, or notes that reference themselves or relationships in the past tense
  • An increase in calling the persons that one cares about
  • A sudden, unexplained elevation in mood
  • Giving possessions away, setting affairs in order
  • Self-destructive behavior (alcohol/drug abuse, self-injury, mutilation, acting out sexually)

What can you do if you suspect someone is suicidal?

  • Ask whether the person is considering killing him- or herself. This is a scary question to ask, but many research studies have shown that asking the question does not increase the risk of suicide.
  • If someone is at immediate risk, do not leave the person alone. Remove all possible dangerous items from his or her presence.
  • Call the Psychological and Counseling Center (615) 322-2571 or the Student Health Center (615) 322-3414 during business hours or the Vanderbilt Police Department (615) 322-2745 for 24-hour service.
  • If the person has already caused harm to him- or herself (e.g., taken pills), call 911 immediately.
  • Never agree to keep another person's serious suicidal thoughts a secret. Actively help the person to seek help. If he or she refuses, you should tell your RA or go to the PCC, not only for your friend, but also for yourself, as this can be hard to deal with.
  • For more information, visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center at

How Can I Get Involved with MAPS?

If you would like to get involved with VU MAPS, sign up here online for one of our training sessions.

Want to be certified as a MAPS Gatekeeper? Do your students or your peers often come to you for help? If you are a faculty member, teaching assistant, resident advisor, organization officer, staff member, or if you are just someone who would like training,the two hour training is recommended.

In this training, you will have the opportunity to learn suicide statistics, warning signs and risk factors, and suicide myths. You will also get intensive training on how you can help, including providing referrals to campus and community resources. Throughout the training, you will get to participate in experiential exercises designed to increase your understanding of individuals in crisis. Such experience will assist you in identifying students in need, as well as provide tools for engaging a student who may be depressed, angry, hopeless, or withdrawn. To increase your comfort in a potential crisis situation, you will have the opportunity to practice your newly acquired skills in multiple role plays facilitated by your PCC trainers.

The two hour session is also included as a part of the My Vanderbilt Experience and Greek Member Experience programs.