Counseling Services

Suicide Education and Prevention

If you believe the risk of suicide is immediate, call Campus Police, (757) 594-7777.

Suicide prevention information is important for each member of the university community, yet it is often an emotionally difficult topic to address. This information sheet is something to use to help you do the things that you can do to support a person in need of help. Many of us are uncomfortable with the topic of suicide, but please know that straightforward and caring conversation is most helpful when a person is struggling with suicide. The goal is to recognize that someone you care about needs help, and that help is likely beyond what you can provide. However, you can help by directly discussing suicide. By providing caring, honest and respectful conversation, you can listen and guide a person to move toward the help that they need.

People in intense emotional difficulty often become consumed by the immediate circumstances, may lose hope and feel helpless, may see no viable solutions, and are in need of others who can supportively recognize the need for assistance. Emotional difficulties can significantly impact our ability to solve problems in an organized and realistic manner. Thus, we may resort to less effective coping responses that can make the crisis worse. Sometimes a crisis is so severe that a person's ability to cope is overwhelmed, and the individual becomes suicidal.

  • Most people who are suicidal will communicate their thoughts and feelings, often directly.
  • Suicidal people frequently express helplessness and hopelessness regarding their current stresses and the future.
  • When you hear suicidal communications or suspect a person is considering suicide, please prioritize them and the concern.
  • Please do not ignore suicidal gestures and statements because you do not feel equipped to help.
  • Instead, temporarily put aside, as needed, other priorities you may have, and give serious attention to any direct, or indirect, suicidal communications.
  • You can help by listening and getting a person connected to others who are equipped to address these serious matters.
  • You, through listening and clarifying what’s being considered, can help connect a person to important resources that can address suicidal considerations.

Depression and other risk factors for suicide

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
  • Extreme changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Inattention to appearance
  • Extreme guilt, self-blame or feelings of worthlessness
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Additional factors that increase the risk of suicide

  • Alcohol and other substance abuse
  • High levels of anger or rage
  • Previous or current impulsive behaviors
  • Recent, overwhelming losses; traumatic stress
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Exposure to someone else's suicide attempt
  • Access to means (e.g., weapons, pills)

Do:

  • Listen and offer support
  • Patiently work to understand the person and his/her communications
  • Ask direct questions about the person's intentions
  • Ask if the person is considering suicide
  • Communicate your concern for the person.
  • Encourage the person to contact a mental health professional; call one yourself; or offer to accompany the person to speak with a crisis responder
  • Call Campus Police at (757) 594-7777 if you believe the risk of suicide is immediate

Do not:

  • Do not argue with the person or explain why they are "wrong" to consider suicide
  • Do not say everything will be all right
  • Do not tell the person about someone who "has it worse"
  • Do not swear secrecy to the suicidal person
  • Do not leave the person alone if you believe the risk of suicide is immediate

  • CNUPD, (757) 594-7777
  • Office of Counseling Services, (757) 594-7047
  • Dean of Students Office, (757) 594-7160
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