Undergraduate Students' Exposure, Knowledge, Utilization, and Intended Use of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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Crisis. The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention

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Background: Suicide is a leading cause of death among college students. Crisis hotlines play a role in linking suicidal individuals to help. Despite leading to favorable outcomes, low utilization of crisis outlines has been reported. Aims: To explore exposure, knowledge, and utilization of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) among a sample of university students; to determine if knowledge and perceived helpfulness of NSPL predict intent to use NSPL. Method: The researcher surveyed 560 students attending a Midwestern university to assess knowledge of, and attitudes toward, the NSPL. Results: Those who reported seeing the NSPL advert (50%) perceived the NSPL to be more helpful than those who had not seen the advert. Only 29% (n = 160) were able to identify who would answer the NSPL (a trained, skilled counselor). Only 1% (n = 4) reported utilization. Participants who reported past exposure to the NSPL advert reported higher levels of perceived helpfulness of the NSPL. Perceived helpfulness of the NSPL was a weak predictor of likelihood to use the NSPL. Limitations: The study limitations include its small sample size; participants' likelihood to use the NSPL was assessed using independent symptoms. Conclusion: Further research is needed to identify college students' underlying attitudes toward the NSPL.