Sadly, after accidents, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. We are fortunate here at The College at Brockport to have a staff, faculty, and administrators who are very aware of students who are struggling. These same professionals are equally effective at getting students the help they need.
The following is merely one of many resources you can use. A guide can only identify a limited number of important items. If you want to talk directly with a counselor about concerns for yourself or a friend, please call the Counseling Center at 585-395-2207, or talk to your RA, RD, or other campus advisor whom you trust.
The following are associated with risk for suicide. In general, the more of these factors a student has experienced and the greater the severity, the higher the risk for suicide.
- Suicidal ideation, plans and/or means
- Recent significant loss
- Failure to live up to one's 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
- Concerns about sexual orientation
- Change in personality
- Giving away possessions
- Sexual promiscuity
- Previous suicide attempts
- Feelings of hopelessness/despair
- Off-handed comments about "not being around" or "about death"
- Impulsivity and/or violence
- Seeing death as the only way to end their suffering
- Appearing to be in a fog
- Recent experienced sexual assault
Why Do People Kill Themselves?
The common link among people who kill themselves is the belief that suicide is the only solution to a set of overwhelming feelings. The attraction of suicide is that it will finally end these unbearable feelings. The tragedy of suicide is that intense emotional distress often blinds people to alternative solutions...yet other solutions are always available.
We all experience feelings of loneliness, depression, helplessness, and hopelessness from time to time. The death of a family member, the breakup of a relationship, blows to our self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, struggles with sexual orientation, alcohol and substance abuse, and/or major financial setbacks are serious issues which all of us may have to face at some point in our lives. Because each person's emotional makeup is unique, each of us responds to situations differently. In considering whether a person may be suicidal, it is imperative that the crisis be evaluated from that person's perspective. What may seem of minor importance to someone else can be extremely distressful to another. Regardless of the nature of the crisis, if a person feels overwhelmed, there is danger that suicide may seem to be an attractive solution.
At least 70 percent of all people committing suicide give some clue as to their intentions before they make an attempt. Becoming aware of these clues and the severity of the person's problems can help prevent such a tragedy. If a person you know is going through a particularly stressful situation - perhaps having difficulty maintaining a meaningful relationship, having consistent failure in meeting pre-set goals, or even experiencing stress at having failed an important test- watch for other signs of crisis.
Many persons convey their intentions directly with statements such as "I feel like killing myself," or "I don't know how much longer I can take this." Others in crisis may hint at a detailed suicide plan with statements such as, "I've been saving up my pills in case things get really bad," or "Lately I've been driving my car like I really don't care what happens." In general, statements describing feelings of depression, helplessness, extreme loneliness, and/or hopelessness may suggest suicidal thoughts. It is important to listen to these "cries for help" because they are usually desperate attempts to communicate to others the need to be understood and helped. Often persons thinking about suicide show outward changes in their behavior. They may prepare for death by giving away prized possessions, making a will, or putting other affairs in order. They may withdraw from those around them, change eating or sleeping patterns, or lose interest in prior activities or relationships. A sudden, intense lift in spirits may also be a danger signal, as it may indicate the person already feels a sense of relief knowing the problems "will soon be ended."
Myths about Suicide
- MYTH: "You have to be crazy even to think about suicide."
- FACT: Most people have thought of suicide from time to time. Most suicides and suicide attempts are made by intelligent, temporarily confused individuals who are expecting too much of themselves, especially in the midst of a crisis.
- MYTH: "Once a person has made a serious suicide attempt, that person is unlikely to make another."
- FACT: The opposite is true. Persons who have made prior suicide attempts may be at greater risk of actually committing suicide; for some, suicide attempts may seem easier a second or third time.
- MYTH: "If a person is seriously considering suicide, there is nothing you can do.
- FACT: Most suicidal crises are time-limited and based on unclear thinking. Persons attempting suicide want to escape from their problems. Instead, they need to confront their problems directly in order to find other solutions - solutions that can be found with the help of concerned individuals who support them through the crisis period, until they are able to think more clearly.
- MYTH: "Talking about suicide may give a person the idea."
- FACT: The crisis and resulting emotional distress will already have triggered the thought in a vulnerable person. Your openness and concern in asking about suicide will allow the person experiencing pain to talk about the problem, which may help reduce his or her anxiety. This may also allow the person with suicidal thoughts to feel less lonely or isolated, and perhaps a bit relieved.
How You Can Help
Most suicides can be prevented by sensitive responses to the person in crisis. If you think someone you know may be suicidal, you should:
- Remain calm. In most instances, there is no rush. Sit and listen - really listen to what the person is saying. Give understanding and active emotional support for his or her feelings.
- Deal directly with the topic of suicide. Most individuals have mixed feelings about death and dying and are open to help. Don't be afraid to ask or talk directly about suicide.
- Encourage problem solving and positive actions. Remember that the person involved in emotional crisis is not thinking clearly; encourage him or her to refrain from making any serious, irreversible decisions while in a crisis. Talk about the positive alternatives that may establish hope for the future.
- Get assistance. Although you want to help, do not take full responsibility by trying to be the sole counsel. Seek out resources that can lend qualified help, even if it means breaking a confidence. Let the troubled person know you are concerned - so concerned that you are willing to arrange help beyond that which you can offer.
- Suicide prevention experts have said that the best information to convey to a person in crisis is the following: "The suicidal crisis is temporary. Unbearable pain can be survived. Help is available. You are not alone."
Need Additional Help?
- The Counseling Center...........................585-395-2207
- The Health Center....................................585-395-2414
- University Police.......................................585-395-2222
- Newman Center.......................................585-637-5036