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How You Can Help

Responses to Distressed and Disturbed Behaviors

  • Talk to the student in private.
  • Listen.
  • Express your concern in a nonjudgemental way.
  • Ask if the student is considering suicide.
  • Identify options for the student.
  • Make referrals.

Responses to Dysregulation Behaviors

  • Call 911 from a campus telephone or (972) 860-4290 from a non-campus telephone if
    there is an immediate risk of harm to self or others.
  • If no immediate risk of harm to self or others is present, call the appropriate office.
  • Until help arrives, do the following:
    • If others are present, ask them to step away.
    • Express your authority with non-verbal cues. Be confident.
    • Sit or stand erect.
    • Make direct eye contact with the individual.
    • Conduct yourself in a serious manner.
    • Speak clearly and distinctively.
    • Remain calm and listen.
    • Do not attempt an intervention or move suddenly toward the student.

Responding to Suicidal Concerns

Show you care. Connect on an emotional level. Listen.

  • Ask, “How are you feeling?”
  • Say, “I’m concerned about you. I noticed you haven’t been going to class.”
  • Listen with respect. Individuals in distress want understanding and care.

Ask About Suicide Directly!

  • Don’t be afraid to ask about suicide directly. Talking about it does not put the idea in students’ heads. That is a myth!
  • Say, “Sometimes when people are feeling as upset (sad, depressed) as you are, they think about suicide. I’m wondering if you’re having thoughts of suicide.”
  • If the student responds with a “yes,” say, “I’m worried about you and I want you to be okay.”
  • Ask, “Have you thought how you would kill yourself?”
  • If the student has a plan, he or she is at an increased risk of attempting suicide.

Get help. Explore options. Offer resources.

  • Ask, “Who can help?” or “Who usually helps?”
  • Avoid being the only lifeline. Get assistance. Remember, FERPA allows you to share information you observed or heard with another college official.
  • Ask, “How would you feel about going to the Counseling Center?”
    • “Let’s walk over there right now.”

Dos and Don’ts
Don’t argue about the moral issue of suicide or lecture on the value of life.
DO validate that depression and suicidal feelings are real, common, and treatable.
Don’t promise to keep the person’s suicidal thoughts a secret.
DO get assistance. A judgment should be made by a mental health professional about
the seriousness of a suicidal thought or behavior.

If necessary, report your concerns.