Risk Reduction and Prevention

Tips on How to Start the Conversation

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  • Ask. Be specific about your concerns when talking to them. “You haven’t left your room in over a week.”
  • Express care and concern.
  • Make time and space for the conversation. Do it in a safe, private space and make sure you have time to talk to them.
  • Ask if and how you can help them. Remember that you don’t have to be their counselor. You can always call the Counseling Center and speak to a counselor to get additional ideas for future conversations.
  • Don’t beat around the suicide bush. If you are picking up on thoughts of suicide, ask them about it directly.
  • Encourage or assist them in seeking help, if needed.
  • Refer them to the Counseling Center or other help centers.
  • Share with others the risk and preventative factors of suicide.
  • Reinforce preventative actions individuals can take if they are having thoughts of suicide or know someone who may be.
  • Educate yourself on the warning signs of suicide and become an advocate by Starting The Conversation with other individuals.
  • Provide concrete steps for finding help. Inform the person that help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and through established service providers and crisis centers.

LGBTQ+ Community - Suicide Prevention

Student Veterans - Suicide Prevention

Signs of distress:
  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, anger, seeking 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, unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
How to provide support

If you have a friend in need, let them know you are willing to help if they need it. Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Show you care.
  • Make yourself aware of local resources.
  • Share a personal positive experience of seeking help, it can make the situation less threatening.
  • Respect their limits.
  • Offer to go to the Counseling Center with them or sit nearby while they make the phone call.
  • If someone does not want help, you can call the Counseling Center and speak to a counselor to get additional ideas for future conversations.
Understanding levels of concern:

When you should be highly concerned if someone:

  • States “I want to kill myself”
  • Having a plan or looking for means to kill themselves
  • Extreme self-neglect (prolonged lack of hygiene, not eating for extended periods of time)
  • Disconnected with reality (disorganized thoughts or speech, hallucinations, supernatural beliefs)
  • Cutting with serious or neglected wounds, violent behavior

When you should be concerned, but not emergent if someone:

  • Expresses thoughts of suicide with no plans to act
  •  Withdrawn, short term appetite loss
  • Short term lack of sleep
  • Frequent crying
  • Cutting with superficial wounds, angry mood

Don’t be alone in your concerns. Tell a supervisor, RA, advisor, etc. about your concern. You can always contact the Counseling Center to discuss your concern with a professional to gain insight and advice on how to address your concern.