Helping Someone in Trouble

Here are some common signs that someone may be having emotional troubles or even feeling suicidal:

  • References to death or suicide in conversation, jokes, or writings
  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Withdrawal from friends and social activities
  • Loss of interest in schoolwork, work, and other activities
  • Abrupt changes in behavior, mood or appearance
  • Pursuit of dangerous activities
  • References to previous suicide attempts
  • Drug or alcohol problems
  • Signs of depression: crying, hopelessness, sleeping or eating problems, low energy, low self-esteem, excessive guilt

Here are ways to be helpful when someone shows some of these signs:

  • Take the signs seriously.
  • Ask to talk to the person.
  • Say you are concerned.  Point out the signs you’ve noticed.
  • Be willing to listen.  Don’t judge or give lots of advice or try to cheer up the person.
  • If it’s unclear that the person is suicidal, ask, “Have things gotten so bad that you’re actually thinking of hurting yourself?”  Asking about suicide is a sign of caring.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy.  Say that you need to talk with someone to make sure they are safe.

If the person is acutely suicidal, they may do something right away.  Do not leave them alone.  Have someone else promptly call Campus Security (707) 638-5804 or dial 911.

If the situation is not an immediate emergency, refer the person to LIFENET Behavioral Health Services 1-800-543-3638.  Tell the person at risk that you will make the call and explain the situation.