Suicide and Mental Health

Suicide Prevention: How to Help and How to Get Help

Indiana University is committed to assisting students and employees in emotional distress.

In our academic and working careers we often spend a significant amount of time with our peers, students, and coworkers and may be the first to notice when someone is struggling. The information on this website offers guidance in recognizing situations of concern, information on how to respond, and resources available to assist.

Recognizing the Signs of Suicide Risk

People who are at risk for suicide often exhibit one or more warning signs.  These warning signs may be noticed in what they say, what they do or how they act. 

Talk

If a person talks about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Feeling unbearable pain

Behavior

Behavioral changes, especially when related to a painful event, loss, or abrupt life change, may be signs a person is considering suicide.

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
  • Engaging in more risky or reckless behavior
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Acting aggressively

Mood

People who are considering suicide may display a variety of moods, and moods may shift among the following:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation
  • Anxiety

While any one of these "warning signs" may or many not indicate someone is suicidal, the more "warning signs" present suggests a higher level of risk. All "warning signs" should be taken seriously.

How can you help? 

Talking with someone that is experiencing depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, or feeling overwhelmed can be stressful and uncomfortable. Yet having a person that listens and cares is one of the things we want the most when we feel so bad.  Consider these steps when you are in a situation to help another person

  • LISTEN...don't rush to fix, advise, correct, or disagree
  • EMPATHIZE...reflect what's heard and what it would be like to be in their situation
  • NORMALIZE...refer to the normal needs everyone has during stressful times
  • GET HELP...assist the person in locating resources or report to campus officials for intervention. 

Don't enter into an agreement to 'keep a secret' - this can put you in the unfortunate position of not being able to tell someone who might need to know. 

To address these situations most effectively in the future, spend a few moments now thinking about what you would do if you were talking with someone that was considering suicide or to someone that could benefit from counseling.

Where to Seek Help for Yourself or Another 

If you believe someone is at immediate risk of harm to themselves or another, CALL the Indiana University Police Department at 9-1-1 or at their local contact number.

If the individual is not at immediate risk, but expresses thoughts of harming themselves or another, encourage them to contact a professional.  Resource and contact information is available on the campus resources page.  

If the individual is not at immediate risk and does not agree to seek help, but you remain concerned about their safety you can consult with one of the resources available on your campus or in the community.