Suicide Prevention for Faculty and Staff
If you believe a student of yours may be having suicidal thoughts, use these guidelines to help you assess the situation and decide on next steps. If you need assistance or if you have any questions please call the Counseling Center at 541-346-3227. After hours you will be connected to the After-Hours Support and Crisis Line.
SIGNS - Look for actions, thoughts, feeling or physical evidence of suicidal intent. This may include statements of hopelessness, worthlessness, extreme sadness or numbness.
ASK- Ask directly about students’ thoughts about suicide. Be specific. Don’t ask if they are thinking about harming themselves since there are many non-lethal ways to harm oneself. Ask “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” (Asking the question will not put the idea in their head.)
FIND OUT – Determine the need for immediate assistance. Have they made a plan? If so, more immediate action is warranted.
ENLIST – Involve other persons who can provide care and support. Walk them to or call the Counseling Center or other listed resource. Consult with one of our counselors at 541-346-3227.
REPORT – File a Suicide Concern Form with the university to initiate professional follow-up or contact the Office of the Dean of Students to let them know you are concerned about a student. The report is especially helpful for students at risk of suicide who are reluctant to seek professional help.
While student’s mental health issues are a serious concern, there is good news. Being a university student can be a protective factor! Universities provide a broad range of resources to identify students of concern and to intervene when needed. Faculty and staff are an important part of the safety net for students experiencing mental health issues. Here are a few additional tips.
Communicate your concerns directly to the student. Be specific and behavioral. For example, “I’m worried about you. You have been missing class a lot lately.” “You usually participate actively in class discussions, but lately you have been very quiet and you seem to have difficulty staying awake.”
Students will sometimes say that they want to tell you something, but they do not want to you tell anyone. Do not promise to keep something private until you know what it is. Even mental health professionals cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality when someone’s life is in danger.
Maintain clear and consistent boundaries. While it may be important sometimes to do something out of the ordinary for a student in order to help, notice if you are consistently overextending yourself.
Be aware of your own life experiences that might cause you to over-identify with students. Over identification can sometimes lead us to ignore healthy boundaries with students or to assume that what helped us will also help the student.
Be aware experiences that might cause you to feel more feel more afraid of, intimidated by, or annoyed with some students. Those feelings might cause you to avoid interacting with a troubled student or to address concerning behavior.
Remember that with suicide prevention your role is to identify when a student may be at risk, convey empathy and concern, and refer to mental health and other professionals. Ask the student if you can call the Counseling Center to set up an appointment while the student is in your office – or if the student would be willing to walk over to the Counseling Center with you right then. Contact the Office of the Dean of Students to let them know you are concerned about a student. If you are uncertain what to do, feel free to call the Counseling Center to consult.