SAN ANTONIO - Students at the University of Texas at San Antonio are learning about a new way to deal with bullying, and hopefully prevent suicide.
KENS 5 spoke with a UTSA student who was given the challenge to recognize at-risk students and help them deal with issues before it's too late.
"My first semester, I lost my dad to suicide,” said Melina Acosta. She is now a senior studying psychology at UTSA. Her father's suicide inspired her to help others.
"Since then, I've grown a lot,” she said. “I know more about mental health, and I plan to make it my life’s work."
She is determined to become an advocate and help others prevent taking their own life.
Last fall, Acosta and students from 205 university campuses united to take part in the Kognito Challenge, an online learning simulation that demonstrates ways to approach students dealing with distress.
"Kognito offered a 30 minute simulation for free for students across the U.S.,” said Acosta. “The module puts you through simulations and how to have difficult conversations."
"It walks you through that difficult conversation, how to call a crisis hotline and how to help people get help for themselves or a loved one," she said.
So far, the program has prepared nearly 7,000 students on how to have real-life conversations with friends they may be concerned about.
300 students from UTSA participated. For Acosta, she said this program hits home for her. She feels better prepared to see the warning signs and help those around her.
We’re told out of all 205 schools, UTSA won the challenge.
For more information on how you can take the challenge and other resources to help stop bullying and teen suicide, click here.
According to Lisa Cholewa, account executive at JSPR, 205 university campuses united to take part in the largest student-run mental health ID challenge in recent history.
Through the Kognito Challenge, colleges, including winner UTSA, were given free access to At Risk in Higher ED for Students: an evidence-based, online learning simulation about mental health, stigma reduction, practices in how to approach and encourage students experiencing psychological distress to seek help.
As a result, nearly 7,000 students are better prepared to have real-life conversations about emotional health with friends they may be concerned about. After participating, students said they are better prepared to deal with the following situations:
· Approach and discuss concerns with a friend in distress
· Motivate a friend to seek help
· Would seek help for themselves if they feel distressed
· Would recommend the simulation to friends and peers
· Feel confident in their ability to help a suicidal student seek help