Tim Piazza's death at Penn State has brought up a lot of emotions for Gordie's family and friends, our office, and our supporters. The most heartbreaking aspect of both Tim and Gordie's deaths, along with other hazing and alcohol overdose deaths, is that they were entirely preventable. Intervention opportunities existed on so many levels - within the fraternal organization, within the group of peers that surrounded both Gordie and Tim during the events that led to their deaths, and in the community as a whole. Bystander intervention (responding actively when someone is in distress) is a critical skill that everyone can practice to prevent alcohol overdose and hazing deaths. Check out the section below on the 5 steps to effective bystander intervention that are the core of the Step UP! Bystander Intervention Program. Step UP! was created at the University of Arizona in collaboration with the Gordie Center, the National Collegiate Athletics Association, and the BACCHUS Peer Education Network to help students be empowered to make life-saving interventions.

We want to highlight your stories of intervention, and how you are working to keep those around you safe--please visit our Hero Wall and add your story!
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Step UP! 5 Steps to Intervention

Step UP! is a national bystander intervention training model that teaches students how to appropriately intervene in problem situations. The training provides a framework for becoming an active bystander by understanding the barriers to intervention and the 5 Steps to Intervention. A practice component helps students learn strategies and techniques to intervene both directly and indirectly. The five steps that must occur to move from a passive to an active (or responsive) bystander are:
  1. Notice the Event: If you are not aware that a person is passed out on the couch at a party or that a friend is frequently skipping class due to hangovers, you would have no reason to be concerned. Be aware of your surroundings. Noticing an event does not have to occur face-to-face--it can include seeing something on Facebook, in an email, or in a tweet.
  2. Interpret the Event as a Problem: Once you notice a potential problem, you must decide if the situation merits intervention. You may ask friends for their opinions on the seriousness of the situation, or investigate further even if others appear unconcerned (e.g., checking a student's breathing). Bystander intervention training encourages participants to be mindful of group-think and be prepared to follow their instincts even if others appear unconcerned.
  3. Assume Personal Responsibility: Most students feel a responsibility to their peers. Publicly stating your intention to take action can encourage others to support an intervention. Enlist others to step up with you by assigning specific tasks (e.g., "I'll stay with our friend while you call 911").
  4. Know How to Help: You need to know the symptoms of an alcohol overdose and how to respond, as well as how to effectively intervene with a student who has a substance abuse problem. Practice sessions and role-plays can be effective methods for building these skills.
  5. Implement the Help: You may accurately perceive a situation as a problem, feel responsibility to intervene and possess the skills to help, and still not intervene because the perceived (or real) consequences of action are too great. Do not be afraid to step up! Your action can give strength and permission to others. Student organizations that discuss behavioral expectations around intervention can reduce the fear of retaliation for potential bystanders.
We want to help you with your programming!

Now is the time when we start looking at our list of summer projects, planning for our fall education and prevention efforts, and figuring out what is left in this fiscal year's budget. The Gordie Center is here to help you! We offer many evidence-based products to complement your campaigns and efforts on your campus and in your community. Check out our GORDIEstore, where you can download and print our free Safer Drinking Guidelines brochure, preview our documentary film HAZE, and learn about customizing our products with your logo and information.
Until next month,
Susie Bruce,  Director, Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Jill Maurer, National Development & Program Coordinator

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