Loyola University Chicago

Wellness Center

Guide to Understanding Suicide

Concerned about a friend or family member?

We’ve put together a short guide to help you better understand warning signs and risk factors for suicide.

 

Know the risk factors for suicide for college students. Risk factors are factors that, if present, increases the chance that a person may try to take their own life. Here are some common risk factors for college students.

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Substance abuse (alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs)
  • History of suicide ideation
  • Homesickness and culture shock
  • Feelings of alienation, loneliness, inadequacy
  • Mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Being in a new or unfamiliar environment
  • Academic and social pressures
  • Alienation and loneliness
  • Major life transition such as loss of a loved one, breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend, failing an exam or course, or not getting into one’s choice of major

 

 

Often, people who commit suicide give some clues about their intentions before making an attempt. Know the warning signs for suicide for college students to prevent suicide.

  • Sudden decrease in school performance
  • Fixation with death or violence
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Violent mood swings or sudden change in personality
  • Engages in reckless behaviors
  • Reports feeling very depressed
  • No interest in activities
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Making statements about hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Unusual calling or visiting people one cares about
  • Dramatic mood or behavior changes
  • Making statements about wishing he/she were dead or wanting to kill self

 

 

Have concerns about a friend’s mental health? Concerned that a friend is considering harming themselves? Here are some do’s and don’ts on helping them:

  • DO trust your instincts that the person may be in trouble.
  • DO reach out to the person and express your concern.
  • DO Seek support from others.
  • DO listen and accept the other person’s feelings.
  • DO offer to go with the person to seek help from his or her parents, a counselor or other source of support.
  • DO convey the message that depression is real and common,
  • DO offer hope that alternatives are available and take action.
  • DON’T allow yourself to be sworn to secrecy.
  • DON’T ask why. This encourage defensiveness.
  • DON’T judge, argue, or act shocked by their plans.
  • DON’T ever dare someone to kill themselves.

 

Want to learn more about how to help? Sign up for one of our gatekeeper trainings. If you know someone who needs immediate assistance, GET HELP NOW