Suicide Prevention Information
Call 215-572-2967 for Counseling Services.
1-800-SUICIDE, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Do's and Don'ts with Suicidal People
- Suicide is Forever
- Depression and Triggers
- Friends can make a difference
- Warning Signs
Do's and Dont's with Suicidal People
from Drugs in Perspective: A Personalized Look at Substance Use and Abuse, Dr. Richard Fields, 2001.
- Get involved. If in doubt, ask questions. Don't wait for a call from someone in trouble; make the call yourself. Examples of how to ask the question: Are your problems so big you are thinking of harming yourself? Do you wish you could end it all? Have you been thinking of suicide?
- Be accepting and nonjudgmental. Don't offer simple solutions (they sound like brush-offs). Be realistic about the problems, but offer reassurance (hope).
- Be confident and bold. As a solution, suicide can wait. What needs fixing may take a little time, but, at least for today, suicide can wait. Buy time - any way you can.
- Remove the means of suicide. Get rid of guns, pills, razors, whatever. Suicidal people are running red lights without a seat belt; buckle them up.
- Always take a positive, hopeful approach. Suicidal people feel hopeless. Fortunately, hope is infectious, so assure them things will get better because, in fact, they usually do.
- Don't act shocked, dismayed, or frightened. Suicide is drastic, but it's only a solution to a problem. What's the problem worth dying for? Try to understand this and you can save a life.
- Don't ignore the person's threats. Even if he or she doesn't really intend to die, can either of you afford to ignore this cry for help?
- Don't point out the shock, embarrassment, or suffering the family or loved one will endure if the person dies, unless you are sure that isn't exactly what the person wants.
- Don't get into a debate on the merits of living or dying. You might lose the argument.
- Never put yourself at risk of injury (taking a gun or knife away) unless you are highly trained in this area.
The following additional information is taken from the pamphlet "Suicide and Depression: What You Need to Know," Journeyworks Publishing - available free in Counseling Services.
Suicide is Forever.
- It's hard to see alternatives when you are in crisis, but they do exist.
- Life's painful times do not last forever, even if it feels like they will.
- Having suicidal thoughts is nothing to be ashamed of. It's something to get help for.
Depression can be treated.
- Everyone feels sad or down sometimes. But if you or someone you know has overwhelming feelings of despair that last for more than two weeks, depression may be the cause.
- Some symptoms of depression include:
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Sleeping too much or not at all
- Not being able to enjoy things that used to be fun
- Forgetfulness and not being able to concentrate - inability to do school work
- Feeling worthless, hopeless, and/or guilty.
- Feeling overwhelmed by life.
- Depression is the most common mental illness in the world, and the most treatable. Talk to a doctor or counselor about help.
Sometimes life events can trigger suicidal feelings.
- Getting into trouble at school or with the police
- Fighting or breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend
- Having a friend or family member die, especially if this person committed suicide
- Being in a family that is going through a divorce or where parents argue a lot
- Being in a family where there is physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
Using alcohol or other drugs can make you feel worse.
- As many as 80 percent of people who attempt suicide have been drinking
- If you're going through a hard time, alcohol and other drugs will not help and may make things worse
Friends can make a difference.
If you think a friend is suicidal:
- Let him or her know you care.
- Talk about your feelings and listen to your friend's feelings.
- Encourage your friend to seek help. Say things like "I know where we can get some help. Let's go to Counseling Services now."
- If your friend has a suicide plan, do not leave him or her alone. Get help from the Residence Life Staff or Counseling Services.
- Alert important people in your friend's life - family, friends, teachers. Do it even if your friend asks you not to tell anyone. You may be saving a life.
Look for warning signs.
- Talking about suicide or making a plan
- Obsessing about death
- Writing poems, essays, or drawing that refer to death
- Sleeping or eating too much or too little
- Giving away treasured belongings
- Withdrawing from friends and activities
- Losing interest in personal appearance
- Showing extreme changes in behavior or personality
- Taking unnecessary risks