How You Can Help
Family cohesion can help protect against suicide. Establish and maintain regular support an communication with your student. Take the time to know his/her friends, as well as supportive college personnel. Let your student know how to reach you to talk about personal victories as well as with any struggles that last more than a few days.
- Balance in your student’s college life
- Healthy relationships
- Good nutrition
- Restful sleep
- Regular exercise and daily routine
Spiritual support can also be a protective factor. The college experience, itself, may be protective, as the suicide rate for college students is half that of their non-college peers
What to do When Your Student is Struggling
Connect with your student. Let your student know you are concerned. Be understanding. Ask what is causing him/her the most problems. Show your support.
Ask your student, “Have you been feeling hopeless? Have you had thoughts of … wanting to be dead? …killing yourself?” Be direct, as these questions won’t put the idea into his/her head. Get details: The more planning and lethal the method s/he has envisioned, the greater the risk.
Show love and Support
If your student has thoughts of death or suicide, do your best to understand what problems might have led to them. Listen empathically and without judgment. Be calm. Don’t let your own fear or anger get in the way of showing that you care and want to help. Convey a sense of choice and help him/her see some positive aspects in his/her life, including the ongoing support of family and community. Emphasize your belief in your student’s future, and your desire for your student to stay alive to realize that future.
If your student is depressed or is thinking about death/suicide, encourage him/her to call our campus counseling service or campus health center as soon as possible. Your student may need support to do this. Counseling and medical services are confidential (except in cases of threat of imminent harm). Campus services are often available free of charge or at a low cost.
If you are unsure how to proceed, or if your student refuses to see a professional, you can call the university’s counseling office and other university personnel to alert them of your concerns.
The Counseling Center is available for consultation if you are not sure what next steps to take to support your student.