The Suicidal Student

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among college students. Any one of us can become suicidal if life hits us hard enough! The suicidal person is usually intensely ambivalent about killing himself/herself and typically responds to help. Suicidal states are definitely time-limited and most who commit suicide are neither crazy nor psychotic.

How to Help a Student Who May be Suicidal: Ask, Listen, Refer Program.

ask listen refer


This is designed to help faculty, staff, and students prevent suicide by teaching you to:

  • Identify people at risk for suicide.
  • Recognize the risk factor, protective factors, and warning signs of suicide.
  • Respond to and get help for people at rick. 


  • Take it seriously — 75 percent of all people who commit suicide give some warning signs of their intentions to a friend, family member, or trusted professional.
  • Be willing to listen — even if professional help is needed, a student will be more willing to seek help if you have listened to him or her.
  • Voice your concern — take the initiative to ask what is troubling the student.
  • Get professional help immediately — If you determine that the student is/may be suicidal, bring the student to the counseling center or call us and we will come to your office.
  • High-risk indicators include feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and futility; a severe loss or threat of loss, a detailed suicidal plan, a history of pervious attempts, a history of alcohol or drug abuse, and feelings of alienation and isolation.
  • Assume the situation will take care of itself.
  • Be sworn to secrecy. The primary objective is to get the student the help they need, eg. "I'm glad you feel comfortable sharing this with me, but we really need to involve somebody who can best help you.”
  • Stress the shock and embarrassment that the suicide would be to the person's family, this may exactly what he/she hopes to accomplish.
  • Argue or debate moral issues regarding suicide.

A Brief Check List (PDF)

It is most helpful to:
  • Be on the alert for signs of drug abuse (impairment).
  • Share your honest concern for the person.
  • Encourage him/her to seek help.
  • Get necessary help in instances of intoxication.