JED’s comprehensive approach is drawn primarily from the overall strategic direction of the United States Air Force (USAF) Suicide Prevention Program, a population-based strategy to reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors for suicide (Knox et al., 2003). The JED approach is also based on what is known about how to decrease risk factors and increase protective factors for mental health and suicide among adolescents, college students, and the general population; an understanding of the student mental health problems that campuses face; and existing recommended practices.
Consistent with a public health approach, two guiding principles form the foundation of the JED Campus program. First, support for emotional well-being and prevention of suicide and serious substance abuse must be seen as a campus-wide responsibility. No longer can these issues fall solely, or primarily, to the health and counseling centers on campus. While those offices have an important role to play, it is the responsibility of everyone on campus to promote and protect the emotional health of the student body.
Second, the promotion of emotional health, suicide prevention and substance abuse prevention must have support from the top down. It is imperative that senior leadership on campus, including the President and Board of Trustees, acknowledge the importance of supporting the emotional well-being of students and make this a priority for the entire campus community.
These two underlying principles are the cornerstone of the JED Campus program and are essential in order to effect any type of long-term, systemic change on campus. With this foundation in place, campuses are best equipped to implement the JED Campus Framework.