Death of a friend or family member, especially
if by suicide
“I’m going to end it all.”
Acquiring a gun or stockpiling pills
Diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness
“If (such and such) doesn’t happen, I’ll kill myself.”
Putting personal affairs in order
Legal issues, unexpected loss of freedom, fear of punishment
“I’ve decided to kill myself.”
Giving away prized possessions
Helping a Friend
Many students have never directly dealt with a suicidal person. When such a situation presents itself, they are likely to feel helpless and overwhelmed. The following guidelines are presented to help provide a sense of direction and facilitate the helping process.
If in doubt, don’t wait, ask the question
If the person is reluctant, be persistent
Talk to the person alone in a private setting
Allow the person to talk freely
Give yourself plenty of time - they may not say they are suicidal right away
Have your resources handy: phone numbers, names, and know how you are going to get them to help
Listen to the problem and give them your full attention
Say, “I want you to live,” or “I’m on your side”
Remember, suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived unsolvable problem
Offer hope in any form
Get Others Involved. Ask the person who else might help. Family? Friends? Siblings? Pastors? Rabbi? Physician? Faculty? Roommates? Coaches?
“Will you go with me to get help?”
“Will you let me help you get help?”
“Will you let me call someone who can help?”
Individuals who are suicidal often believe they cannot be helped, so you may have to do more.
The best referral involves taking the person directly to someone who can help.
The next best referral is getting a commitment from them to accept help, then making the arrangements to get that help.
The third best referral is to give referral information and reinforce how helpful talking to someone can be. Any willingness to accept help at some time, even if in the future, is a good outcome.
Join a Team. Offer to work with clergy, therapists, psychiatrists or whomever is going to provide the counseling or treatment.
Follow up with a visit, a phone call or a card, and in whatever way feels comfortable to you, let the person know you care about what happens to them. Caring may save a life.
A Few Myths About Suicide
No one can stop a suicide, it is inevitable. Fact:
If people in a crisis get the help they need, they will probably never be suicidal again.
Confronting a person about suicide will only make them angry and increase the risk of suicide. Fact:
Asking someone directly about suicidal intent lowers anxiety, opens up communication and lowers the risk of an impulsive act.
Only experts can prevent suicide. Fact:
Suicide prevention is everybody’s business, and anyone can help prevent the tragedy of suicide
Suicidal people keep their plans to themselves. Fact:
Most suicidal people communicate their intent sometime during the week preceding their attempt.
Those who talk about suicide don’t do it. Fact:
People who talk about suicide may try, or even complete, an act of self-destruction.
Once a person decides to complete suicide, there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. Fact:
Suicide is the most preventable kind of death, and almost any positive action may save a life.
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