Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. Someone in trouble may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. Suicide may result from distorted rational thinking and decision-making, not from a lack of character or moral weakness.
Approximately 80% of people who have attempted suicide told someone. Suicidal thoughts can be triggered by a major crisis, such as the death of a family member or friend, end of a significant relationship, or being academically dismissed from school.
High-risk signs of suicidal intent: negative perceptions of life; intense feelings of hopelessness and futility, particularly if accompanied by anxiety; feelings of alienation and isolation; the idea that death is a solution to end stress; a personal and/or family history of depression and previous attempts; a history of substance abuse; and/or a history of self-damaging acts.
A suicidal person is often intensely ambivalent about killing him/herself and is usually open to talking about his/her suicidal concerns. People at greater risk of a lethal suicide attempt talk about or write a lot about death and they have a specific plan for killing themselves, have means to carry out the act (e.g., medication, knives, firearms), abuse alcohol and other substances, and tend to be socially isolated.
Imminent danger signs: highly disruptive behavior (hostility, aggression); inability to communicate clearly (disjointed thoughts, slurred speech); loss of contact with reality (seeing/hearing things not there, beliefs at odds with reality); overt suicidal thoughts and gestures (suicide is a current option); or homicidal threats. In such cases, call 9-1-1.
If someone is suicidal and wants to talk to someone anonymously, the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK is a free, 24-hour service for anyone in crisis or emotional distress.
When you suspect a person is suicidal:
1. Seek assistance. The following resources are available to help you.
- University Health Services (208) 426-1459
- Employee Assistance Program (208) 426-1616
- Campus Security and Police Services (208) 426-6911
2. Submit a Care Report.
- Call 9-1-1 if you believe the person is in immediate danger.
- See the person in private if possible.
- Be direct. Ask the person if s/he is suicidal, if s/he has a plan, and if s/he has the means to carry out that plan. Such dialogue may actually decrease the impulse to commit suicide (at least temporarily as it relieves the pressure).
- Take the person seriously. Acknowledge the threat as a plea for help.
- Listen to the person and respond with concern. Show you care.
- Reassure the person that you will help him/her reach a psychologist or psychiatrist.
- If possible, escort the person to Counseling Services (NORCO Building).
- Be supportive. Express your concern about the situation.
- Don’t be worried that you’re overreacting. Many of the warning signs for suicide could also indicate other problems that still need professional intervention. When in doubt, report.
- Minimize the situation or sound shocked by what the person tells you. All threats need to be handled as potentially lethal.
- Argue with the person about the merits of living or moral aspects of suicide.
- Be afraid to ask the person about his/her intent and/or plans of suicide.
- Agree to be bound by confidentiality.
- Over commit yourself and not be able to deliver what you promised.
- Allow the person’s friends to take care of the person without getting professional help.
Submit a Care Report