Sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death, after accidents, among college
students. Suicide is a permanent solution to a
temporary problem. We are fortunate here at Western Kentucky University to have a student body, staff, and counselors that are aware of the many exciting and challenging experiences that students may face, and we are effective at getting students the help that they need. This paper should only be used as a guide on suicide, suicide prevention, as well as the informing you about the resources available to you at WKU. Counselors are always available for questions about this guide or for concerns for others or self.
How can I tell if someone is suicidal?
Many people believe that those who talk about suicide are the most likely to kill themselves, however, that often is not the case. Suicide is linked to depression. Most people with depression do not commit suicide, but most of the people that attempt suicide are depressed.
Depression is present if at least five or more of the following symptoms are present during a two-week period; at least one of the symptoms must be either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities.
• Has suicidal ideation, plans and/or means
• Recent significant loss
• Failure to live up to their own or others' expectations
• Increased isolation/social withdrawal
• Inability to experience pleasure or have fun
• Alcohol/other drug use
• Poor class attendance/poor academic performance
• Giving away possessions
• Sexual promiscuity
• Previous suicide attempts
• Feelings of hopelessness/despair
• Comments about not being around or about death
• Impulsivity and/or violence
• See death as the only way to end their suffering
• Thoughts of suicide
• Recent sexual assault
What do I do if I am thinking of suicide?
If you have thoughts of suicide, it is important to recognize that these thoughts are: expressions of a treatable medical illness. If you have a cold or broken bone then you go seek help for it, the same should be done for mental or emotional illness. Don't let embarrassment stop you from talking with your physician, counselor, family or friends. Take immediate action and talk to somebody today. Remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary, curable problem.
When people don't understand the facts about suicide and depressive illnesses, they may respond in ways that can cut off communication and worsen feelings. That's why it is important to find someone you trust and can talk with openly and honestly. It's also why a counselor is an important resource in helping you, and your family. A counselor is available 24 hours a day at NEC.
A student seems more than depressed, what should I do?
If there is any doubt or a reason of concern about their health, you should contact the counseling center or the counselor that is on call at WKU. Upon receiving the student's information a residential assistant, WKU staff, or counselor will attempt to check in with the student to see how she or he is doing, and address the situation accordingly.
What can you do to help someone with suicidal thoughts?
One of the things to do with somebody who may be considering suicide is to talk and listen to him or her. Do not attempt to be a counselor or therapist. Many times people just want someone to listen to us. This can be hard task to do, so below are some guidelines on what you could do or expect. If you believe there is any harm in the present or future with the person, then the on call counselor should be notified immediately or follow the steps listed in the "what do I do if someone attempts suicide" segment.
• Express empathy and concern
• Describe specific behaviors and events that trouble you.
• Work with professionals
• Stress that the person's life is important to you and to others.
• Be prepared for anger
• Always be supportive
• Take care of yourself
What do I do if someone attempts suicide?
If the student has made a suicide attempt, call 911 for an ambulance, and the Police. If the student has serious suicidal thoughts or appears to be in a fog or not thinking clearly, they need to be seen immediately. Call the Counseling and Testing Center 8:00am-4:30pm or after hours, call campus police (745-2548) and they will assist you. You can also call the Lifeskills helpline at 1-800-223-8913.
If the student has a few of the risk factors, but denies being suicidal, it makes sense for them to touch base with a counselor. They can call counseling to set up an appointment at their convenience.
If you are not sure what to do, or how to proceed, call the Counseling and Testing Center. If you feel the student needs to be seen by a counselor right away and the student refuses, we can work with you to get them the help they need.
National Strategy for Suicide Prevention