WellCat Counseling Center

The Suicidal Student

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. It is important to view all suicidal comments as serious and make appropriate referrals. The suicidal person is intensely ambivalent about killing himself/herself and typically responds to help. High risk indicators include feelings of hopelessness and futility, a severe loss or threat of loss, a detailed suicide plan, a history of previous attempts, history of alcohol or drug abuse, feelings of alienation and isolation, preoccupation with death.


  • Take the student seriously–80% of suicides give warning of their intent.
  • Acknowledge that a threat of or attempt at suicide is a plea for help.
  • Be available to listen, to talk, to be concerned, but refer the student to the Psychological Counseling Center (898-6345, SSC 430) or a community hotline (891-2810) for additional help. Attempt to make sure the student actually gets some help.
  • Take care of yourself. Suicide intervention is demanding and draining work.


  • Minimize the situation or depth of feeling.
  • Be afraid to ask the person if they are so depressed or sad that they want to hurt themselves (e.g., "You seem so upset and discouraged that I'm wondering if you are considering suicide.")
  • Ignore your limitations.