Recent events in high schools across the country have shown an increasing need for the evaluation of student well-being and safety.

Graduate students in West Virginia Universitys Department of Psychology are doing just that. The students are undertaking a new community outreach program on suicide prevention in area public schools led by Dr. William Fremouw, a WVU professor of psychology and director of the Universitys Quin Curtis Center.

Qualified psychology graduate students and faculty, in cooperation with school nurses, screened 515 Morgantown High School freshmen last week.

With parental consent, the high school students were given an 11-item self-report that assessed current depression.

Topics included loss of interest in activities, drug and alcohol use, suicidal thoughts, and playing thechoking gamewith peers. There were notrickquestions in the assessment. Each question was straightforward and asked exactly what it appeared to be askinga practice known in such research asface validity.

Individual interviews were conducted with those students showing high risks for depression and suicide. They were also referred to additional counseling.

Those who measured as having a moderate risk were invited to participate in a six-week, in-school program designed to teach stress management techniques and encourage peer support. Only students with parental consent were allowed to participate.

The program moves next semester to University High School.

Fremouw earned his Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts in 1974. After an internship at the University of Rochester Medical School, he joined the WVU faculty in 1975.

He has authored over 65 publications, including a book on the assessment of suicide. He currently serves as chair of the West Virginia Psychology Peer-Consultation Committee and teaches courses in forensic psychology, ethics, legal issues, and psychopathology.

The Quin Curtis Center is a psychological service, training and research center providing innovative, time-efficient treatments for clients with disorders from anxiety, trauma, depression, eating disorders and childhood behavior problems. All counseling is offered under the supervision of licensed psychologists.

For more information, contact Fremouw at william.fremouw@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-2001, ext. 31662.