The Student who may be Suicidal
Your responsibilities are not to
diagnose or provide therapy; it is the development of a compassionate and
forthright conversation that ultimately helps a student in trouble find
understanding, support, and the proper therapeutic resources.
suicide is a rare event (i.e., 5 to 7 for every 100,000 college students per year),
it is the second leading cause of death among college students after vehicle
accidents and before alcohol related deaths.
ideation is often associated with major depression, a combination of acute anxiety
and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, bipolar
disorder and/or intimate relationship issues.
who are suicidal often, but not always, tell people about their thoughts or
give clues to others about their feelings.
factors associated with suicide risk are:
thoughts, both passive and active
and guilt associated with perceived failure
view of the future (i.e. uncertainty about academic and/or career path)
of helplessness, especially in addition to anxiety and hopelessness
of alienation and isolation
death as a means of escape from distress
or family history of depression and/or suicide, or suicide attempts
related to development/integration of sexual identity
of self-mutilation or risky behavior
confident to ask directly about suicide (i.e., “Are you thinking of suicide or
Are you thinking of killing or harming yourself”). Asking a student if they are
suicidal will not put the idea in
their head if it isn’t there already. Rather, it will bring a secret out into
the open, which is the first step to a solution. A student who is suicidal and
confides in someone is often highly ambivalent about suicide and open to
who are at high risk usually have a specific plan, a means that is lethal
(e.g., medication, knife, gun), a time frame in which they will kill themselves
and tend to be or feel isolated. An individual who is at high risk can sometimes
be a threat to others or homicidal.
911 if the student is in immediate danger to himself or herself.
calm and use the student’s name in communication (i.e. “John, I am concerned
about you and want to get you
to the student in a relatively private location. You may wish to have another University employee
present or within visual or auditory range in case the student’s behavior
them that you will be discrete with the information that they share.
calm and take the lead.
a student’s disclosure as a serious plea for help (“I hear that you are
considering killing or hurting yourself to end the pain you are feeling.”).
needed, ask the student directly about feelings and plans (“Are you thinking of
killing yourself?” “How have you thought about doing it?”). Not having a plan
is a good thing.
care and concern, and assure the student that you will help him or her reach professional
help. (“I believe and trust what you are saying and that you have not gotten to
this point easily. I am very concerned for you and want you to believe and
trust me now and that seeking help can make a difference.”).
the incident occurs during business hours, call the Counseling Center (904) 620-2602
and then escort the student to the Counseling Center located in Building 2,
Founders Hall, Room 2300.
hours, contact the UNF Police Department at (904) 620-2800.
document your interaction with this student.
threats must be considered potentially lethal.
vital to seek professional support for the student as soon as possible. Do not
minimize the situation, argue with the student, or assume the family knows that
the student has problems.