Suicide is often cited as the second leading cause of death among college students, with more than 1,000 students dying each year in the U.S. Firearms are used more often than all other methods combined. Most people who kill themselves believe that suicide is the only solution to unbearable feelings or problems; they have a sense of hopelessness. Their intense emotional distress may blind them to the alternative solutions available to them.
Screening for Suicide Risk
Some factors increase the risk of suicide in students including:
- Previous suicide attempts
- Having a suicide plan and the means to carry it out
- Family history of suicide
- Depression or manic-depression
- Alcohol or drug abuse
At least 70 percent of people who try to kill themselves give some sort of signal about their intentions. Examples of those signals include the following:
- Giving away possessions or "tying up loose ends"
- Lack of interest in activities, appearance, or friends
- "Life isn't worth living"
- "Nobody cares"
Other thoughts and feelings may include:
- Can't stop the pain
- Can't think clearly
- Can't make decisions
- Can't see any way out
- Can't sleep, eat or work
- Can't get out of depression
- Can't make the sadness go away
- Can't see a future without pain
- Can't see themselves as worthwhile
- Can't get anyone's attention
- Can't seem to get control
Suicidal Students - What You Can Do
- Stay calm. Take the time to listen carefully to the person.
- Express your concern and support. "I'm worried about…." "You're not alone. There's help available."
- Talk about it directly
- Have you thought about hurting yourself?
- If yes, have you thought about how you would hurt yourself?
- Have you tried to hurt yourself before? How? When?
- Do you have the means to harm yourself?
- Don't make a promise to keep their suicidal thoughts a secret-you may need to get help.
- Don't debate, lecture or argue with the person. That may add to the person's guilt or bad feelings.
- Keep the person safe. Don't leave them alone until you believe they will be safe.
- Get professional assistance. If danger is imminent, call 911 or on campus 9-911 for help.
- Counseling Center, 273-2676
- Public Safety, 273-4000
- Statewide Crisis Line, 800-332-4224
- National Suicide Hotline, 800-SUICIDE (784-2433)