Suicide – it’s not an easy topic to talk about, but it is so important. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college-aged students. Whether you or someone you care about is having a hard time, it’s important for someone who is thinking about suicide 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.
Know the signs
We can look out for a number of different signs to know when it’s time to ask the question. For example, if someone has expressed that 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.
Have a plan to reach out
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 that 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 out for yourself and encourage friends to as well (by doing so, you also show them that you are someone they can reach out to).
Supporting a friend
Remember that you are not responsible for the outcome. Getting someone connected to a professional resource is the best thing that 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.
Learn more about CU's suicide prevention campaign.