The risk factors below may be warning signs for suicide and are often the first signs of stress. If you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you might benefit from talking with a mental health professional.
Reduced ability to do well in school, work, or other life areas
Feelings of failure
Persistent difficulties falling or staying asleep
Intolerable anxiety, inability to stop thinking, or
Repeated panic attacks
Persistent sadness, irritability, or emptiness
Thinking, talking, or writing about suicide, death, or
Using alcohol or drugs to cope or feel better
A recent crisis in, or loss of, a close personal
Feelings of being trapped, helpless, or desperate
Inability to look toward the future with some hope
Suicidal crises often happen after a loss, such as the loss of a relationship or a loss of interest in important activities or goals.
Students who are already struggling with depression or anxiety, alcohol and substance use, or issues with anger may be more likely to experience suicidal thoughts or feelings.
If you or someone you know has caused serious self-harm regardless of the stated intent (e.g., pill overdose, alcohol poisoning, serious cutting)
If you or someone you know has threatened suicide, either verbally or in writing, or has somehow made it known that they want or intend to commit suicide (e.g., through e-mail or “away messages”, or giving away prized belongings)
If you or someone you know is making plans or seeking the means for suicide (e.g., obtaining ropes, weapons, pills)
These public service announcement for college students focus upon current mental health statistics, which include risk factors for suicide; In addition, it emphasizes the importance of seeking counseling for such mental health concerns. The Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program helped to create these PSA’s, as part of STEP UP! UAlbany, Bystander Intervention campaign.
Friends are often in the best position to recognize the first signs of stress. Here are some steps you can take to help a friend in distress:
Notice the Warning Signs (see above).
Interpret the warning signs as risky. Recognize that the warning signs mean that the person needs help. Safety is ALWAYS the first priority.
Choose to get involved. Don’t assume that someone else will step up to help the person. Express your concern directly to the person.
4. Know how to help. Reach out to your friend. Express your concern. Be direct and honest. Encourage getting help without sitting in judgment, acting shocked or suggesting that you have all the answers. And - above all - be available, listen, and accept the other person’s feelings. You may not understand what your friend is going through, but you can help them through it.
Decide to take action. STEPPING UP! can include a variety of ways to help someone.
The goal is to help the student get connected with professionals who can evaluate and treat suicide. Unless you are worried about your personal safety, it may be helpful to stay with the student until professional or emergency services respond.
Sometimes people who are depressed show one or more warning signs but deny suicidal thoughts and feelings and do not behave in a way that requires immediate attention. If this is true of you or someone you know, speaking with a mental health professional may help. Click here.
CAPS offers a comprehensive 1.5 hour suicide prevention training program for students, faculty, and staff. Students and staff members are often the first to notice the warning signs of suicide or other mental health concerns. As a part of its SAMHSA Suicide Prevention Grant Initiative, CAPS created Save-a-Life, an interactive training program to educate the campus community on how to prevent suicide and other mental health crises.
During the Save-a-Life program, participants learn:
Information about the prevalence of suicide and other related facts
Risk factors and warning signs for suicide
The link between mental health concerns and suicide
How to responding to students in distress
Resources for assistance
What to do in an emergency situation
If you would like to schedule a training session for your student or staff group, please contact Heidi Wright, PsyD at 518-442-5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Developed in part under grant number SM57502 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, politics and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.