College is a time of significant transition. Many students are living away from home for the first time and have less access to support from family and friends. Along with increased freedom and independence, students face greater stress from a variety of sources, such as: increased academic demands, adjusting to a new environment, and developing a new support system. College also provides an opportunity to experiment with alcohol and other drugs, which may compound problems with mood and increase the risk for suicide.
Many students come to college with a prior history of mental health difficulties or treatment. Environmental stressors in combination with a predisposition to experience mental health problems may increase risk for suicide. In a recent national survey 16% of college students reported being diagnosed with a depressive disorder, many within the last year. Over 90% of persons who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder, typically a depressive disorder or substance abuse disorder. Men are especially at risk for completed suicide. College age men are four to six times more likely to die by suicide than women. Women are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide using nonlethal means than men.
When Should Someone Seek Immediate Assistance?
When they are...
- Threatening or talking about wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
- Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms or other means
- Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide
If you or someone you know need immediate assistance, please call any of the local resources listed below:
The Counseling Center (708.235.7334)
After hours call the Department of Public Safety (708.235.4900)
Will County Crisis Line 708-258-3333
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish
1 (800) 273-8255
How Can I Help Someone Who May be Suicidal?
- Show interest and be supportive.
- Be direct; ask them if they are considering suicide or have a plan.
- Don't be judgmental, give advice, or try to talk them out of suicide.
- Don't swear to secrecy.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available.
- Don't leave the person alone.
- Take action, remove means, and assist them in getting the help they need.
- Inform Residence Life and Housing staff if you live in a residence hall.
- Consult with a counselor as needed.
How Common Is Suicide and Suicidal Feelings Among College Students?
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds
- In a recent national survey, 10.3% of college students reported that they seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months
Facts About Suicide
- Most suicidal persons want to live but are unable to see alternatives to their problems.
- Most suicidal persons give warnings of their intentions, but others are either unaware or do not know how to respond.
- Talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal.
- Just because a person talks about suicide (expresses his/her feelings), does not mean he/she is no longer at risk for suicide.
- Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention.
What Are the Risk Factors for Suicide?
- Depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder
- Stressful life events, in combination with other risk factors such as depression
- A prior suicide attempt
- Family history of mental disorder, substance abuse, or suicide
- A history of family violence or abuse
- Access to a firearm or other lethal means such as medications
What Are Some Warning Signs?
- Deteriorating academic performance
- Depression, dramatic mood changes
- Preoccupation with death
- Anxiety or agitation
- Uncontrolled anger or rage
- Engaging in risky activities
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Neglecting appearance and hygiene
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Giving away prized possessions
Is Suicide Preventable?
Yes! Specific kinds of psychotherapy have been found to be effective in treating suicide. Medications are also effective in treating the symptoms that contribute to suicide, such as depression and anxiety. Remember, you are not alone and help is available!
Resources for Suicide Prevention:
American Association of Suicidology - www.suicidology.org
The goal of (AAS) is to understand and prevent suicide.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - www.afsp.org
The nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes.
Half Of Us - http://www.halfofus.com/
Mental health issues are a reality for millions of people. Young people are especially at risk, with half of college students reporting that they have been stressed to a point where they couldn't function during the past year. The impact of mental illness is so devastating that suicide is the third leading cause of death among all people ages 15-24.
IMAlive - https://www.imalive.org/
An Online Crisis Network. The first online network with 100% of its volunteers trained and certified in crisis intervention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control - www.cdc.gov/ncipc
CDC’s Injury Center has helped protect people from violence and injury. We are the nation’s leading authority on violence and injury prevention. We research the best ways to prevent violence and injuries, using science to create real-world solutions to keep people safe, healthy, and productive.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
Online Resource for College Mental Health - www.ulifeline.org/
Provides suicide and depression resources for college students.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center - www.sprc.org
The nation’s only federally supported resource center devoted to advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
The Jed Foundation - http://www.jedfoundation.org/
As the nation’s leading organization working to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among college students, The Jed Foundation is protecting the mental health of students across the country.
ULifeline - http://www.ulifeline.org/
On online resource for college mental health. Also includes a help line for those with more serious mental health issues such as suicidal thoughts and how to help a friend.
*Information above was obtained by the Counseling Center at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.