The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free, confidential suicide prevention and intervention services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call toll-free, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Learn more at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young adults and second leading cause among college students in the United States. Each year approximately five thousand individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 take their own life. Most of those who die could have been helped. Someone considering suicide frequently confides in a friend or relative, who may be able to help the person to seek appropriate and lifesaving treatment.
The California State University (CSU) system has created a new electronic resource entitled, the Red Folder, to help faculty and staff identify, respond, and refer students in distress. The Red Folder initiative was created through the support of the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) Student Mental Health Initiative (SMHI), which promotes and applies strategies to strengthen student mental health services across all CSU campuses. The CSU recognizes that students might seek support and counseling from faculty and staff members whom they have fostered a trusting relationship. For this reason, the Office of the Chancellor is providing each campus with tools that will assist its faculty and staff in connecting distressed students with the appropriate campus services.
Suicide Prevention Success in California
Students and Suicide
College students can face serious mental and behavioral health issues, including depression and binge drinking. The challenge for mental health professionals is how to identify and help them; nationwide, fewer than 20% of students who die by suicide are past or current clients of their school's counseling center.
However, students who do connect with services often benefit significantly. Cal Maritime surveys have shown that over 75% of those who sought mental health care said services helped them stay in school and improve academic performance.
Why Do People Consider Suicide?
Because each individual is unique, there is no single reason why someone has suicidal thoughts or may attempt to kill themselves. Factors that may contribute to having suicidal thoughts are:
- A major life transition that is very upsetting or disappointing
- A loss of an important relationship or the death of a loved one
- Depression, anxiety or other serious emotional troubles
- Feelings of hopelessness or despair
- Low self-esteem or shame
- Failure to live up to one's own or others' expectations
- Extreme loneliness
- News of a major medical illness
- Severe physical or emotional pain
- Alcohol or drug problems
There are many verbal and nonverbal warning signs that someone may be suicidal and crying out for help. These warning signs include:
- Extended depression, sadness or uncontrolled crying
- Giving away personal or prized possessions
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Lack of interest in personal appearance
- Withdrawal from friends
- Lack of energy or ambition
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Restlessness or hyperactivity
- Increased risky behaviors
- Hopelessness and helplessness
- Remarks like: "It'll be over soon," "I can't take it anymore," "I have no reason to go on," "My life will never get better," or "People will be better off without me." Read more about responding to these comments on social media.
- Disclosure of previous suicide attempts
- A recent loss or trauma from which a person is not recovering
Suicide Myths and Facts
People who talk about suicide won't really do it.
Fact: Almost everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Don't ignore suicide statements.
If a person's going to attempt suicide, nothing will stop them.
Fact: Most who attempt suicide remain uncertain of the decision until the final moment. Most suicidal people don't wish for death – they wish for the pain to stop.
People who complete suicide are unwilling to seek help.
Fact: Studies show that more than half of suicide victims sought professional help within six months of their death.
Anyone who attempts suicide must be psychotic or insane.
Fact: Most people who complete suicide aren't psychotic, although many are depressed.
Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.
Fact: Talking about suicide doesn't give someone suicidal thoughts – the opposite is true. Bringing up the subject and talking about it is one of the most helpful things you can do. It helps a suicidal person feel understood and shows you understand the suffering the person's experiencing.
Ways to Help
Listen: Help a suicidal friend to talk about whatever is painful or distressing and offer them emotional support.
Express Your Concern: Encourage them to contact others who could be supportive.
Ask Directly: Ask direct questions about suicidal thoughts, plans, or intentions. Listen to what is said and treat it seriously.
Help Someone To Stay Safe: If they are in immediate danger, stay with them and call a Resident Assistant (R.A.), local police, or the University Health Service for urgent assistance.
Encourage The Person To Seek Help: You may want to offer to accompany them to talk to the R.A., a Mental Health Clinician, or to UHS Urgent Care.
Talk with A Clinician or Someone Else You Trust: This way you can share the responsibility with others, attend to your own need for support, and check out how you can continue to be of help.
Resources for Help
In an emergency, call one of the following numbers:
Campus Police: 911
Acute Emergency: 911
Student Health Center: (707) 654-1170
After Hours Assistance Line: (707) 654-1170, ext 1
If you have questions about yourself or a friend, you can talk with the CAPS Counselor by coming to Student Health Center or calling (707) 654-1170.
CAPS offers free trainings for the Cal Maritime campus community. Learn to recognize the warning signs of suicide and what to do if you see them – you could save a life. Read more information about outreach. To schedule a training call the CAPS Counselor directly at (707) 654-1174.
Why is training important?
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.
5,000 young adults – 1,100 college students die by suicide every year.
Research indicates 10% of college students have suicidal thoughts.
Even one death is one too many.