Ask the Question

Suicide – it’s not an easy topic to talk about, but it is so important. Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst college-aged students. Whether you or someone you care about is having a hard time, it’s important for someone who is suicidal to get the help they need.

Here are a few things you can do if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide.

Ask the question

A lot of us are afraid that asking if someone is thinking about suicide can plant the idea or make them think about it more. Research shows that this is not true. Instead, by asking “Have you had thoughts about suicide?” we communicate that we really care about the person. Asking the question can start the conversation to help support them in getting the help they need.

We can look for a number of different signs to know when it’s time to ask the question. For example, if someone has expressed they feel like a burden, has become isolated, has stopped doing things they love, is no longer caring for themselves, or starts talking about wanting to die, you might ask if they’ve had thoughts about suicide.

When we feel depressed, anxious, or some combination of both, we can easily become isolated and feel like a burden. Even if you doubt it, someone cares about you and wants you around. Studies show when people write down who they would reach out to if they were in a crisis or felt suicidal, they are less likely to act on suicidal thoughts; try this strategy for yourself and encourage friends to as well (by doing so, you also show them you are someone they can reach out to).

If you're concerned about a friend, here are some tips for supporting them:
  • Be direct. Talk openly about suicide and what your concerns are.
  • Listen without judgment. Allow them to express their feelings and concerns.
  • Encourage them to seek help. If they feel comfortable with you, ask if you can help them connect with a resource.
  • Follow up. Check in with your friend about what they need, where they are, and how you can support them. Remember you are not responsible for the outcome.

Getting someone connected to a professional resource is the best thing you can do. If you’re unsure about what to do, you can reach out to a professional to help you plan your next steps.

Research demonstrates that talking to a mental health professional can help with reframing our thoughts and reducing suicidal ideation. Students who go to their counseling center are 14% more likely to succeed academically than those who do not. Medication distributed by a licensed professional can also be effective in helping people feel like themselves again.

Campus Resources

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers walk-in and crisis care services during normal business hours. Anyone can call their main line at 303-492-2277 to speak with a licensed professional 24/7.

Local and National Resources

Colorado Crisis Services offers walk-in and crisis intervention services at a variety of locations throughout Colorado. They can be reached 24/7 at 1-844-493-TALK (8255). The nearest walk-in location to campus is Mental Health Partners Crisis Intervention Service in Boulder, located at 3180 Airport Rd.

The Hope Coalition of Boulder County is a local resource that supports depression awareness and suicide prevention.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support, prevention and crisis resources and can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The Veterans Crisis Line offers a free hotline, online chat and texting support for veterans in crisis and their family and friends. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 for 24/7 confidential support.

The Crisis Text Line offers free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.