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.