The college years represent a major transition period. You may be living away from home for the first time. However, the safety nets that can protect you at home may not exist at college. It is easier for problems to go unnoticed away from the eyes of parents, old friends, and high school teachers. At college, you may be faced with opportunities to experiment with drugs or alcohol for the first time.
Why would someone want to die? Sometimes people want to die because they are suffering from depression or other mental health issues—and college students may neglect to take medication prescribed for depression, hyperactivity, or other problems. Mental illness can cause so much emotional pain and anguish that it might prevent you from rationally considering other solutions to problems.
While you may not be able to solve these problems for a friend or classmate, you may be able to help the person find help. And the first step in doing so is recognizing the warning signs that someone may be at risk of suicide.
As a college student, you and your friends have your own culture and language. You may know your college friends better than their own parents do. And you may be able to tell that something is wrong with one of your classmates when others can't. You can use your insights to help your friends and classmates find help when they are having problems.
Some people may be more at risk for suicide than others.
While there is no foolproof method of determining that someone is thinking of hurting themselves, the following signs might indicate that someone is considering suicide:
Again, there is no foolproof way of knowing for sure that a friend is considering suicide. But even if they’re not, these warning signs can mean that your friend has other serious mental health issues. By taking action, you can help that person become happier and healthier.
It’s hard to know what to do when you suspect a friend is suicidal. If your friend expresses suicidal thoughts or intent, he or she should speak to a mental health specialist right away. If you are not sure what to do, contact the
24-Hour Crisis Line (King County Crisis Clinic) at 866-427-4747 (866-4-CRISIS). This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Here are some ways to be helpful:
If there is a life-threatening emergency, call 911 immediately
Mental Health Clinic (Hall Health) (206) 583-1551 Monday through Friday from 9:00am-4:30pm
UW Counseling Center (206) 543-1240 Monday through Friday 8am-5pm
24-Hour Crisis Line (King County Crisis Clinic) 866-427-4747 (866-4-CRISIS) Available 24 hours a day
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-TALK (8255) Available 24 hours a day
Go Ask Alice! is a web-based anonymous health question-and-answer service produced by Alice!, Columbia University's Health Education Program.
Samaritans is an organization based in the United Kingdom that offers 24-hour, confidential emotional support to people, no matter where they live, who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those feelings that may lead to suicide. The Samaritans operate a free and confidential e-mail service, which generally responds to your e-mail within 24 hours.
Ulifeline.org is a web-based resource created by the Jed Foundation to provide students with a non-threatening and supportive link to their college's mental health center as well as important mental health information.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center provides prevention support, training, and materials to strengthen suicide prevention efforts.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to advancing our knowledge of suicide and our ability to prevent it.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) is located at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a valuable source of information and statistics about suicide, suicide risk, and suicide prevention.
Suicide Prevention Action Network USA is the nation's only suicide prevention organization dedicated to leveraging grassroots support among suicide survivors (those who have lost a loved one to suicide) and others to advance public policies that help prevent suicide.
Authored by: Hall Health Center Mental Health Clinic staff
Reviewed by: Dr. Mary Bachhuber Watts, Associate Medical Director, February 2014