App and avatar-based program are new campus tools for suicide prevention

World Suicide Prevention Day Sept. 10

Miami students, faculty and staff are encouraged to use two new electronic tools to help identify students in emotional distress. Miami's student counseling service has launched a mobile app and an online, avatar-based training program to teach the common indicators of psychological distress and how best to approach at-risk students for referral to the university’s counseling center.

Just in Case

The Miami University student counseling service has launched a new mobile app as part of its extensive suicide prevention program. See full story online.

Just in Case and At-Risk add to Miami's student counseling service's extensive suicide prevention program.  

The Just in Case app from eReadia LLC and customized for Miami, is intended to provide a quick connection to support and emergency response resources for students encountering a mental health crisis or responding to the needs of a friend in crisis.

Avatar-based training helps identify emotionally distressed students

Online training logoMiami University has partnered with Kognito Interactive to offer an online, avatar-based gatekeeper training in which users learn the common indicators of psychological distress and how best to approach at-risk students for referral to the university’s counseling center. The university offers two Kognito programs, "At-Risk for College Students" and "At-Risk for Faculty & Staff."  

“Creating an environment in which the Miami community feels comfortable helping one another talk about psychological distress is critical to early intervention and suicide prevention,” said Mary Bausano, director of counseling services at Miami’s Hamilton campus. “College is a difficult time for many, and the more tools the university can provide to help our community, the better.”

In At-Risk, users assume the role of a faculty member or student (depending on the program) who is concerned about several students. Users first analyze profiles of these virtual students in order to identify the ones who are at-risk. They then engage those students in simulated realistic conversations to determine whether and how to refer them to the campus counseling center. The virtual students are fully animated and possess their own emotional intelligence and memory. The training is completed once the user successfully identifies and refers the proper at-risk students.

Making it easier to look out for each other

In a study conducted by Kognito, students who completed the training were more likely to intervene when a fellow student exhibited signs of depression or suicidal ideation.

“The At-Risk training program will serve as a central element in our new 'I Am Miami' campaign which encourages social responsibility and looking out for each other among all members of the Miami community,” said Kip Alishio, director of student counseling services at Miami’s Oxford campus.

“The At-Risk programs are the first online trainings available to provide realistic and risk-free online role-play exercises in identifying, speaking with and referring students in need," said Ron Goldman, co-founder and CEO of Kognito. "Developed with input from educators and some of the country's leading authorities on suicide prevention, At-Risk can help connect students to treatment early on which is critical to improving mental health outcomes as well as academic success."

The program is made available through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant Program.   A demo of At-Risk can be viewed at The counseling center number for Oxford is 513-529-4634 and the regional campus counseling numbers are 513-785-3211 (MUH) and 513-727-3431 (MUM).

Kognito Interactive is a developer of role-playing training simulations in the areas of health and behavioral health.  Kognito learning solutions have been adopted by 450 hospitals, universities, state agencies, the Veterans Affairs Dept. of N.Y./N.J. and units of the Air Force and National Guard to train over 1.5 million people in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia.