Preventing Suicide: Warning Signs and How to Respond
The most effective way to prevent suicide is to know the warning signs, take those signs seriously, and know how to respond. People who are suicidal can be helped with the proper treatment.
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family and society
- Anxiety, agitation, inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Dramatic mood changes
- Expressing no reason for living or no sense of purpose in life
- Giving away favorite things
- Talking about dying, death, injuring oneself, disappearing.
If someone has been recently depressed and it suddenly appears as if the depression has disappeared without a trace this could be a warning sign. The risk of suicide may be greatest as the depression lifts.
If you notice any of these signs and symptoms, help is available on and off campus.
In emergencies, contact campus police or call 9-1-1.
More than 90 percent of youth who die by suicide had at least one psychiatric illness at the time of death; in about half such cases, the psychiatric illness was present, although often unrecognized, for two years or more.
- Help is available on or around campuses through the following resources:
- Student counseling center
- Student health service
- Residence hall director, dean, academic advisor, tutor, or faculty
- Campus religious or spiritual leader
Seeking Help Off-Campus:
- Talk to your family doctor
- Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-TALK or local suicide hotlines.
- Community mental health center
- Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
- Use the mental health resource locator.
In an Emergency:
- Call campus police or 9-1-1
- Take the individual to an emergency room or mental health walk-in clinic
- Do not leave the person alone until professional help is with him/her
- Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
Sources used in this article: National Suicide Prevention Week Information and Media Kit
- Connecting Your Child with Mental Health Resources on Campus
- Contact Information Every Parent Should Know
- Exploring Campus Mental Health Support Systems
- Finding the Right Off-Campus Mental Health Professional
- Four Things Every Parent Must Know About Emotional Health
- If Your Child is Worried About a Friend
- Medical Leaves of Absence
- Mental Health Conditions: Privacy and Telling Others
- Preventing Suicide: Warning Signs and How to Respond
- Suicide and College Students
- The Basics: Alcohol and Drug Dependence and Abuse
- The Basics: Anxiety Disorders
- The Basics: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- The Basics: Bipolar Disorder
- The Basics: Depression
- The Basics: Eating Disorders
- The Basics: Schizophrenia
- The Basics: Self-Injury (Cutting)
- The Proactive Parent
- Three Important Guidelines for Transitioning with a Diagnosed Condition
- Transferring Treatment to College
- Types of Mental Health Professionals
- What are Mental Health Conditions?
- What to Do When Your Student is Struggling
- Who Will Struggle with Mental Illness?