Woman in yellow rain jacket standing with a clear umbrella in the rain.

 September is Suicide Awareness Month

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults. Whether you or someone you know is having a hard time, it’s important to reach out or ask for help.  

Learn about upcoming events and programs and ways to get help during ways to get help in honor of Suicide Prevention Week at CU Boulder (Sept.18-22)

Mental health can affect our quality of life. When we experience mental health struggles, it can sometimes take a toll on our relationships, academic performance and overall well-being. Whether you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. 

Here are six signs of depression you should never ignore. 

Signs of depression

1. Difficulty getting out of bed

It’s perfectly normal to enjoy sleeping in or spending time in bed. However, if it has become difficult to find the motivation to get out of bed or get ready in the morning, this could be a sign of depression. Depression can make us feel fatigued and physically drained to the point where even small tasks, like getting up in the morning or showering, can feel exhausting or difficult to do.  

2. Changes in sleeping habits

The physical and mental exhaustion that comes with depression can also affect our sleeping habits. Changes in sleep can show up in a number of ways. Sometimes this means sleeping throughout the day, using sleep as a way to pass the time or preferring sleep to other daily activities.  

Other times, sleep changes can create bouts of insomnia, which can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. Missing out on quality, restful sleep can increase our anxiety levels and intensify feelings of distress. Sometimes, this creates a cycle where our anxious thoughts keep us awake and negatively impact our sleep, which then leads to more anxious thoughts.  

3. Changes in appetite

Our appetite and eating habits can also be impacted by depression. Some people may experience an increased appetite, while others have less of an appetite or may not be hungry at all. If you are noticing changes in your sleep habits, like the ones listed above, you may also notice changes in the way you eat. This is because sleep helps regulate our hunger hormones, which help to keep us from over- or under-eating. 

4. Persistent irritability or mood swings

Depression can cause us to experience outbursts and mood swings. One minute we’re angry, the next we’re crying uncontrollably or shutting down. When someone is struggling with depression, changes in mood can switch in a moment’s notice. Sometimes these changes can be triggered by small or insignificant challenges, and other times they may come about completely unprovoked. If you notice a pattern of irritability or mood swings that last more than a few days, it may be linked to depression. 

5. Self-harm and self-injury

When anxiety or depression create overwhelming emotions, some people may turn to self-harm in search of relief. Typically when people engage in self-harming behaviors, they do not do so in an attempt to commit suicide, but rather as a way to manage painful emotions.

Self-harm can take a variety of forms and vary from person to person. Some examples of self-harming behaviors include damaging the skin (cutting, burning, scratching or carving), hitting or punching oneself, piercing one’s skin with sharp objects, picking at or reopening existing wounds or banging one’s head or body into other surfaces (i.e. a wall or door).

Because self-harm is highly stigmatized, it can be hard for people who self-harm to get help. If you suspect someone may be self-harming, keep an eye out for signs like scarring, fresh wounds (cuts, burns, scratches, bruising) or hiding skin under long sleeves or pants (especially in hot weather).

6. Difficulty experiencing joy or connection

When we’re depressed, it can take all of the enjoyment out of the things we love and make it more difficult for us to connect to those closest to us. We may begin to lose interest in hobbies, friendships, schoolwork, social activities, sex or life in general. When we find that we are no longer enjoying or finding pleasure in the things we used to enjoy, this can be a sign of depression. In some cases people may also isolate themselves from close friends, family members or others who care about them, which can perpetuate the feelings of hopelessness and symptoms of depression.

Getting support

If you are currently experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s okay to seek support:

  • Students can call Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) at 303-492-2277 to make an appointment or access 24/7 crisis support.
  • Staff and faculty can call the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 303-492-3020 to make an appointment.
  • Students, staff and faculty can connect with a mental health professional for free online through AcademicLiveCare regardless of their insurance plan.

If you notice a roommate, friend or classmate experiencing any of these symptoms, here are a few things you can do to help.

Acknowledge their feelings

Oftentimes, if someone is depressed or thinking about suicide, they will disclose their thoughts and feelings to friends before seeking out resources. If someone expresses difficulties, acknowledge their feelings and let them know that you are there for them and care about them.

Express concern

If someone shares their feelings with you or if you notice concerning behavior changes, let them know you’re worried about them. For instance, you could say something like: “I’ve noticed that you haven’t been acting like your normal self lately, and I’m worried about you. Is everything okay?”

Remain calm

It's normal to feel anxious when someone discloses that they're experiencing difficulties, but it's important to appear calm and confident so that the person doesn't then feel like they need to take care of us. It’s okay to seek support for yourself while offering support to others.

Listen without offering judgment or advice

Listen to your friend as they tell you about their experiences, emotions and difficulties. Avoid passing judgment or giving them advice about what they should do. Instead, focus on sitting with them and being there for them in the moment. Your job isn't to fix the situation but to help your friend feel heard and understood.

Ask what would be helpful

It can be tempting to give advice to a friend who is struggling. However, it’s important to ask that person what they need or what would be helpful for them. This may look different for everyone. For instance, your friend may need help with cleaning their apartment or they may need someone to check on them occasionally. It’s also normal for people to not know exactly what they need. If that’s the case, set up another time to talk or check in with them later, so they have time to think about what might be most helpful.

Share resources

If someone you know is struggling, it’s important to know that you don’t have to carry that burden for them. Instead, let them know that there are resources available to help. Keep in mind that it is important to share resources without forcing the person to utilize them. Allow the person to choose how and when they access help. If they are comfortable seeking out additional support, you can offer to help them connect with services on or off campus.

Additional support resources

If you or someone you know is experiencing a life-threatening emergency call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Mental health services

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) provides mental health support for all CU Boulder students, including mental health screenings, drop-in hours, brief individual therapy, group therapy, workshops and crisis support.

Available to: students

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)

FSAP is committed to promoting the mental and emotional well-being of CU’s staff and faculty. They offer free consultations, brief individual therapy and workshops.

Available to: staff and faculty


AcademicLiveCare is a free telehealth platform that allows CU Boulder students, staff and faculty to schedule virtual medical and mental health appointments regardless of your insurance plan. This service does not provide emergency or crisis services.

Available to: students, staff and faculty

Anthem Gold Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)

Students enrolled in the Anthem Gold Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) from CU Boulder have access to comprehensive medical, mental health and prescription coverage, including 100% coverage for in-network mental health visits.

Available to: students

CU Health Insurance Plans

All CU employee health plans include one free preventive mental health care visit per plan year for employees and covered dependents. All plans also offer coverage for mental health specialists that are in-network. For specific plan information, please consult the Employee Services website.

Available to: staff and faculty

Student Support and Case Management (SSCM)

The severity of a student’s distress may be unclear, or you may be concerned about a student and don’t know how to move forward. If this is the case, you can refer students to SSCM. SSCM case managers connect students with campus partners, community resources and support systems, while also building a trusting relationship and coaching them toward self-advocacy.

Available to: students, staff and faculty

Education and support resources

Suicide prevention resources

Health and Wellness Services has put together information to help you talk openly about suicide, support someone you’re concerned about, attend mental health trainings and get support if you or someone you know is considering suicide.

Available for: students, staff and faculty

Mental Health First Aid

CU Boulder offers free Mental Health First Aid training to students, staff and faculty. During this training you will learn about risk factors and warning signs, engage in experiential activities and learn about evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies.

Available to: students, staff and faculty


CU Boulder students can sign up for our free WellCU program to learn about mental health and well-being. Topics include trauma response, suicide prevention, self-care and more. Students who complete all five modules will receive a non-degree certificate.

Available to: students

Red Folder

Red Folder provides a quick reference guide to help staff and faculty recognize, respond to and refer students who are experiencing distress.

Available to: staff and faculty

Supporting Student Resiliency

The Supporting Student Resiliency Professional Development Series provides CU faculty and staff with concrete skills to better support students. Sessions focus on areas critical to student retention and success. Faculty and staff can attend any individual session or attend all three sessions to receive a non-degree certificate.

Available to staff and faculty


Kognito is an online resource that can help you practice having challenging conversations with someone in distress. You’ll learn how to identify the warning signs of psychological distress and how to talk about it with that person. It also provides tools to help you build connections and assist someone in seeking help.

Available to: students, staff and faculty

Skillsoft: Recognize, Respond Refer

This 2-hour workshop builds on the Skills for Mental Health Support Skillsoft training course. This course provides additional time to help staff and faculty practice what they’ve learned, engage in hands-on experiences and ask additional questions.

Available to: students, staff and faculty

Skillsoft: Mental Health Support

This course provides a brief overview of mental health support. Participants will gain an understanding of why mental health is important, how it can impact academic and job success and support resources that are available. You will also learn to recognize signs of distress, respond effectively and refer someone to appropriate resources.

Available to: students, staff and faculty

Tips for talking about and preventing suicide

Talking about suicide, even if the conversation is brief, can encourage friends, peers and loved ones who are at risk to seek support. Check out these helpful tips you can use if you’re concerned that someone may be struggling or thinking about suicide.