The Public Policy Center is working to prevent acts of violence and decrease the suicide rate in Nebraska with various initiatives on violence prevention, suicide prevention, threat assessment, and school safety. Center staff facilitate the development of threat assessment capabilities to enhance law enforcement, educational, and behavioral health professionals’ abilities to address various aspects of targeted violence (e.g., stalking, school violence, extremist violence).
PPC researchers work in consultation with Nebraska agencies and University partners (often with federal funding support) to develop and assess suicide detection and prevention efforts.
Recent projects include: Nebraska Youth Suicide Prevention GLS Project, UNL Campus Suicide Prevention, Violence Risk Assessment, and Threat Assessment.
Efforts in this area include:
- Collaborating with Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security addressing the reporting of extremist activity in rural areas.
- Developing behavioral threat assessment programming across regions of the state providing threat assessment training to law enforcement and behavioral health professionals.
- Compiling a behavioral indicator guide for the U.S. Department of Defense that assists with improved detection of behavioral warning signs of targeted violence and insider threat.
- Assisting with and definitional work included in a recently published FBI Threat Assessment monograph.
- Developing a threat assessment guidance protocol and training relevant to K-12 and higher education threat assessment.
- Performing multiple research projects within military and educational settings assessing stakeholder experiences and decision-making regarding the reporting of threatening and other concerning behavior.
- Providing leadership in the development of the Great Plains Chapter of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP), which facilitates multidisciplinary violence prevention training for law enforcement, behavioral health, educational, corporate, and governmental entities.
- Deploying youth suicide prevention activities across the state in partnership with Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education.
- Coordinating activities to provide training and team development for local outreach to suicide survivors (LOSS teams).
- Training over 65,000 educators and staff at Nebraska’s K-12 schools in suicide prevention and have reached approximately 1.5 million people through media outreach.
- Training over 3000 individuals throughout Nebraska communities to identify the signs of suicide risk and to refer to appropriate services.
- Training 584 clinicians across Nebraska to enhance core competencies in serving individuals at risk for suicide.
- Screening over 1000 youth at high risk for suicide, and ensuring those youth receive appropriate clinical care.
As part of a five-year GLS Suicide Prevention Grant, PPC researchers are working with Region V Systems and the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) to reduce rates of youth suicide by promoting prevention and postvention policies. There is a special emphasis on southeast Nebraska’s 16 county area addressing documented public health data recording a high suicide rate. Implementing postvention policies based on standard guidelines and routine evidence-based suicide screening in schools is the target for the NDE working through the Educational Service Units across the state. PPC staff work with the suicide prevention coalition of Lancaster County and the State Suicide Prevention Coalition sponsoring activities to promote messages regarding suicide prevention.
More information and resources can be found on the Nebraska Youth Suicide Prevention website.
The PPC is working with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on implementing suicide prevention strategies in long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort involves employees of these facilities and offers QPR training, a suicide prevention/awareness training focusing on learning how to ask questions and refer to help if someone is feeling suicidal. The Suicide Prevention State Coalition will distribute mini-grants to regional entities and others involved in behavioral health to provide evidence-based training in conjunction with long-term care facilities.
The Nebraska Department of Education, in partnership with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, applied for and received two “Stop School Violence Act” grants (2018-2021). The first grant focuses on a provision of training to teachers and education to students with the intent to prevent student violence in rural areas. Our focus is on increasing overall awareness of behaviors associated with the pathway to violence, knowing how and what to report to authorities and implementation of locally driven, evidence informed violence prevention strategies. Efforts are sustained by creation of virtual training videos. The second grant focuses on increasing threat assessment capacity for schools in rural areas by offering advanced threat assessment and management training and case consultation to school teams. This grant also includes an archive of videos and other materials to support rural school threat assessment teams after the grant ends.