Suicidal Risk

Facts About Suicide:

  • Although suicide is a rare event, it is the second leading cause of death among college students.
  • Suicidal states are often associated with major depression, a combination of acute anxiety and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.
  • People who are suicidal often tell people about their thought or give clues to others about their feelings.
  • Students who are at high risk usually have a specific plan, have a means that is lethal (e.g., medication, knife, gun), and tend to be or feel isolated.
  • Some factors associated with suicide risk are:
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Pessimistic view of the future
    • Intense feelings of hopelessness, especially when combined with anxiety/feelings of alienation and isolation
    • Viewing death as a means of escape from distress
    • Previous suicide attempts
    • Personal or family history of suicide attempts
    • Substance abuse​​
    • History of self-mutilation
  • ​​A student who is suicidal and who confides in someone is often ambivalent about suicide and open to discussion.​​

What You Can Do

  • Call 911 if the student is behaving in a way that poses an immediate danger to him/herself.
  • Talk to the student in private.
  • Remain calm and take the lead by asking the student directly about feelings and plans.
  • Do not be afraid to ask about suicide. Asking a student if he/she is suicidal will not put the idea in his/her head if it isn’t there already.
  • Take a student’s disclosure as a serious plea for help.
  • Express care and concern, and assure the student that you will help him or her reach a professional.
  • If the incident occurs during business hours, call or escort the student to Personal Counseling located in lower Bedford Hall next to Student Health Services.
  • Call the Office of Public Safety​ at 401.865.2222 for assistance 24/7.

What You Should Avoid Doing

  • Minimizing the situation. All threats must be considered potentially lethal.
  • Arguing with the student about merits of living.
  • Allowing friends to assume responsibility for the student without getting input from a professional.
  • Assuming the family knows that the student has suicidal thoughts.