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Suicide Prevention

While suicide is rare, it is the second leading cause of death among college students. It is useful to conceptualize suicide as the need to overcome unbearable psychological pain, rather than a need to end life.  Suicide can be viewed as a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  In most cases it is possible to help a student navigate through a crisis period with adequate treatment and support, and avert suicide. Students usually give us many opportunities to respond to signals that something is wrong prior to making a suicide attempt. While any one of the signs below is worthy of concern, a constellation of several signs indicates a higher level of risk that should be acted upon immediately.


  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • Looking for ways to kill themselves: seeking access to pills, weapons, or other lethal means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide
  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, anger, revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped, like there's no way out
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family or society
  • Anxiety, agitation, inabilty to sleep, or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Lacking sense of purpose in life, and reason for living
  • Verbal indications of hopelessness and suicidal ideation include statements such as:
    • “I can’t go on any longer.”
    •  “I hate this life.”
    •  “I’m so tired of it all.”
    •  “Everyone would be better off without me.”
    • “Life is not worth living.”
    • “Nothing matters anymore.”
    •  “I want to die" or "I wish I were dead.”
    • Saying goodbye
    • Any mention of suicide


  • Always take suicidal thoughts and behaviors seriously
  • Share that you are concerned about the student and ask them how they are doing
  • If you suspect they may be suicidal, ask them directly about feelings and plans. Asking a student if they are suicidal will not put the idea in their head if it isn’t there already.
  • If you fear for their immediate safety, call Campus Police
  • Encourage them to get help and offer your support, e.g. walk to the Counseling Center with them


  • CAPS (x8059)
  • CAPS On Call (24/365) (610-328-7768)
  • Public Safety (if suicide emergency) (x8333)
  • National Mental Health Help Line 988