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Suicide Prevention

Why is it important?

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students, claiming the lives of 1,100 students each year.
  • 67% of college students tell a friend they are feeling suicidal before telling anyone else.

Suicide is the cause of death that is most preventable.

The following warning signs of suicide demand immediate attention:

  • Threats to hurt or kill oneself, or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.
  • Talk or writing about suicide or death, when these actions are out of the ordinary for a person.
  • Obtaining or looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means.
  • Giving away prized possessions and other person things.

Speak up! How to help a friend:

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide. Asking someone if they are thinking about killing themselves will not put the idea in their head!
  • Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don't debate whether suicided is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don't lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don't act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don't be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention or suicide prevention.

Important things to remember:

  • Setting matters. Pick a place where you both feel safe, preferably a private setting. Avoid ambushing them, approaching one-on-one is the best practice.
  • Be honest and direct. The more honest and vulnerable you are with your friend, the more honest and vulnerable they will feel they can be with you. Be specific about what behaviors, thoughts, and/or feelings are concerning to you.
  • Be prepared with resources. Know how to contact and utilize the counseling center or other mental health services.
  • Communicate your desire to help. Tell them you'll be there and will continue to listen and support them in ways that are healthy for both of you. Stay in touch with them by messaging, texting, phoning, or meeting for coffee. People who are depressed or otherwise struggling can become isolated and may find it difficult to leave their home.
  • Ask for help. Admit you don't necessarily know what is going to be most helpful and ask what you can do.
  • Take care and communicate your limits. Know that you're doing the right thing, and their reaction isn't about you. Have your own support network. Make sure you are looking after your own physical and mental health.

There are many misconceptions about suicide and prevention. Click to learn more about suicide prevention.