Roni Miller poses for a photo outside of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. Miller is a well-being coach for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Health and Well-Being Center

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Big Red Resilience & Well-Being has trained more than 1,500 people to recognize the possible signs of suicidal thoughts through the gatekeeper training program REACH, which celebrates its one-year anniversary this month.

REACH will celebrate one year of suicide prevention training on Tuesday, Oct. 29, from 12-2 p.m. at the kitchen table in the University Health Center. 

The event will be a come-and-go social hour, with guest speakers and refreshments. Program director McKenzie Miers said attendees can come by and grab some punch and cake and learn about REACH.

REACH is centered around the idea of promoting healthy dialogue concerning suicide and mental health, Miers said.

“We’re celebrating and thanking all of our gatekeepers,” Miers said. “We reached our goal of 1,500, and that was really awesome, so we want to keep that going.”

REACH first came to campus in October 2018 with the goal of educating students, faculty and staff on the warning signs of suicide and how to help others reach out for help, according to the UNL Announce website.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students,” Miers said. “We don’t give word-for-word what to say if someone is thinking about suicide but what you can do and the resources they can use.”

Roni Miller, chair of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska’s Campus Life and Safety Committee, has supported REACH from the beginning, getting trained when it first came to campus last year and beginning several REACH-centered initiatives through ASUN.

“I feel like [suicide] isn’t a normalized topic in today’s society,” Miller said. “One of the benefits I found when I went through REACH training was a better understanding of suicidality and what it might look like and what it looks like here on UNL’s campus.”

Miller has authored and submitted a number of bills to ASUN regarding mental health and REACH. Just last Wednesday, after the weekly senate meeting, she arranged for Miers to REACH train all present senators.

“It is very valuable to have [REACH] training as a leader on campus,” Miller said. “Being able to have those skills when you are trying to improve the campus and be the best inclusive leader that you can — it is so valuable to be trained in this very tough issue.”

Both Miller and Miers stressed the value in REACH training as many people on campus as possible.

Students interested in REACH training can schedule a session on the REACH website, or attend one of the open sessions. Faculty and staff can attend the open session on Tuesday, Nov. 26, from 1:30-3 p.m. at the University Health Center.

“Whether you have personally faced that issue of suicidality or not, you never know when a friend or peer or mentor might,” Miller said. “I think that a 90-minute training that could save a life is worth it in any person’s case.”