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Suicide Awareness & Prevention

The World Health Organization estimates that close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. A suicidal person is typically in so much pain that they can see no other option.

The hope of suicide prevention work is to reduce risk factors, increase help seeking, and promote resiliency. Suicide prevention starts with recognizing warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is suicidal, there’s plenty you can do to help save a life.

 

Help for Yourself

Reaching out is the first step to safety. If you are having thoughts of suicide, a mental health professional can help.

It’s More Common than You Think

According to the CDC, in 2019, 12 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted suicide. Suicide and Mental Health struggles are on the rise at all of America’s colleges, and TCU is not immune.

Don’t Be Afraid, You’re Not Alone

If you are having thoughts of suicide please don’t be afraid to ask for help. You do not have to go through this alone. You will not shock or scare anyone if you reach out for help, nor will you be scrutinized or penalized in anyway. Most people know someone who at one point thought about, attempted, or died by suicide.

Find Someone You Trust & Be Honest

You shouldn’t be alone right now and being with someone you trust can help. Find a friend, Resident Assistant, Hall Director, Professor, or a parent. Just make sure to tell someone how you’re feeling, and be direct about experiencing a crisis or having thoughts of suicide. You will not be a burden to others. People care about you and want to help, if you give them the opportunity.

Get Immediate Help

Whether you live on campus or not, it is easy to get professional help. Check out the back of your TCU ID’s for emergency resources.

  • The TCU Counseling & Mental Health Center has a counselor on call Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm. Walk-in crisis appointments are available or you may call 817-257-7863 to schedule an appointment.
  • The 24/7 Phone Counseling Helpline can be reached at 817-257-SAFE (7233).
  • In the event of an after-hours emergency, contact the TCU Campus Police at 817-257-7777.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is a free and confidential national hotline in which you can talk to a trained crisis counselor 24/7. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • The Crisis Textline is a free and confidential national textline in which you can talk to a trained crisis counselor 24/7. Text HOME to 741741

 

Help for Someone Else

If someone you know is struggling emotionally or having a hard time, you can be the difference in getting them the help they need. Make sure to take care of yourself when you are supporting someone through a difficult time.

Know the Signs

You can make a difference in your friend’s by knowing the risk factors and warning signs that your friend is in trouble. Educate yourself on signs you may see, hear, or know about your friend.

Share Your Concern

Summarize to the person what they’ve said or done that makes you worry about their safety. Don’t make assumptions or excuses as to the reasons for their behavior. Be direct, non-judgmental, willing to listen, and aware of the time and space.

Ask the Question

Take a deep breath and ask in a caring and supportive way… The only way to know if the student is talking about suicide is to ask the question.

You should specifically ask “Are you thinking about or having thoughts about suicide?” and/or “Do you have a plan to kill yourself?” that way there is no misunderstanding. Trust your gut and be persistent if you know something is wrong.

 Listen and Get them Help

Often times, a person with thoughts of suicide will develop their own reasons to live if given a chance to talk about their problems. So listen to them and allow them to express their concerns.

Don’t make a plan to keep a suicide plan secret. Avoid minimizing their problems or shaming a person into changing their mind. Express your care and support for the person. The best referral always involves taking a friend directly to help.

Know Where to go for Help

You should know where to go if someone tells you that they are thinking about suicide. Check out the back of your TCU ID’s for emergency resources.

  • The TCU Counseling & Mental Health Center has a counselor on call Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm. Walk-in crisis appointments are available or you may call 817-257-7863 to schedule an appointment.
    • The 24/7 Phone Counseling Helpline can be reached at 817-257-SAFE (7233).
    • In the event of an after-hours emergency, contact the TCU Campus Police at 817-257-7777.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is a free and confidential national hotline in which you can talk to a trained crisis counselor 24/7. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • The Crisis Textline is a free and confidential national textline in which you can talk to a trained crisis counselor 24/7. Text HOME to 741741

 

Understanding Suicide

Risk Factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life.

  • Individual:
    • Previous suicide attempt
    • Mental illness, such as depression
    • Social isolation
    • Criminal problems
    • Financial problems
    • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
    • Job problems or loss
    • Legal problems
    • Serious illness
    • Substance use disorder
  • Relationship:
    • Adverse childhood experiences such as child abuse and neglect
    • Bullying
    • Family history of suicide
    • Relationship problems such as a break-up, violence, or loss
    • Sexual violence
  • Community:
    • Barriers to health care
    • Cultural and religious beliefs such as a belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal problem
    • Suicide cluster in the community
  • Societal:
    • Stigma associated with mental illness or help-seeking
    • Easy access to lethal means such as firearms or medications
    • Unsafe media portrayals of suicide

 

Protective Factors are individual characteristics and things we can do in communities that may help protect people from suicidal thoughts and behavior.

  • Coping and problem-solving skills
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide
  • Connections to friends, family, and community support
  • Supportive relationships with care providers
  • Availability of physical and mental health care
  • Limited access to lethal means

 

Warning Signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

  • If a person talks about:
    • Killing themselves
    • Feeling hopeless
    • Having no reason to live
    • Being a burden to others
    • Feeling trapped
    • Unbearable pain
  • Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:
    • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
    • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
    • 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
    • Aggression
    • Fatigue
  • People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Loss of interest
    • Irritability
    • Humiliation/Shame
    • Agitation/Anger
    • Relief/Sudden Improvement

 

Myths and Facts

Myth: Suicides happen without warning and can’t be prevented

  • Suicide is preventable. Although a suicide attempt can be an impulsive act, it usually takes a lot of mental and physical preparation beforehand. The time spent building up to suicide may be marked by warning signs, but these can be easily ignored.

Myth: College students don’t experience suicide thoughts or attempts.

  • Suicide is a primary cause of death among college students. 1 in 10 college students has considered suicide.18 to 24-year-olds think about suicide more often than any other age group, and over 1,100 college students die by suicide each year. Of these, less than 10% had sought counselling.
  • Many college students struggle with their mental health. Over 90% of college students have reported depressive moods on several occasions in the last year.
  • Over 50% of college students report that their depressive moods interfere with academic functioning, and less than 20% of students with depression are actually receiving treatment.

Myth: Once someone becomes suicidal, they will always be.

  • Suicidal thoughts are often attributed to mental health conditions however, studies tell us that approximately 54% of people who have died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.
  • Suicidal crises are typically short-term, time-limited instances that are based on the desire to control painful emotions. With professional help, ongoing support and treatment, people who have had suicidal thoughts can live long, healthy lives.

Other common myths include:

  • No one can stop a suicide there is nothing you can do about it
  • Those who talk about suicide won’t really do it
  • People who think about suicide will keep their plans to themselves
  • Only experts can prevent suicide
  • People who threaten suicide are just seeking attention
  • Suicide is painless

 

Fact: Suicide affects all ages.

  • It is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34, the fourth leading cause among people ages 34-54, and the fifth leading cause among people ages 45-54.

Fact: Some groups have higher suicide rates than others.

  • Suicide rates vary by race/ethnicity, age, and other factors. The highest rates are among American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic White populations. Other Americans with higher than average rates of suicide are veterans, people who live in rural areas, and workers in certain industries and occupations like mining and construction. Young people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual have a higher rate of suicidal ideation and behavior compared to their peers who identify as straight.

 

How Can You Support Those In Need?

Students

Attending college can be very exciting, but it can also be very stressful. The transition can be a difficult period in which students may feel confused, lost, lonely, inadequate, anxious, and stressed. Many of these characteristics can lead to depression, which is the number one cause for suicide.

  • It affects you. Stress, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders are the main reasons students have suicidal thoughts. Suicide is a primary cause of death among college students. One in ten college students reported having seriously considered suicide within the last year.
  • The stakes are high. Please don’t miss out on the amazing academic and social opportunities TCU has to offer because you are struggling.
  • The sooner you get help, the better. If thought and feelings are interfering with your ability to thrive in school or connect with friends, reach out for help.

 

Parents/Family

As a parent of a college student, you know how exciting and challenging your son or daughter’s college experience can be. Now is the time to think about them doing well academically, making lifelong friendships, being financially responsible, staying safe, and planning for the future. However, with all these future opportunities and challenges ahead, it is important to also think about your student’s emotional health. Utilize the provided information to stay educated and informed on mental health issues that may affect your student.

Encourage your student to come to the TCU Counseling & Mental Health Center located in Jarvis Hall. Walk-in crisis appointments are available or students can call 817-257-7863 to schedule an appointment. All appointments are confidential and the records are separate from student’s educational records.

Families of TCU students can contact the TCU Counseling & Mental Health Center during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, to discuss any relevant concerns about their student. The Counseling Center can provide advice on how to approach a student in need, discuss appropriate plans of action, and give referral information.

 

Faculty/Staff

Faculty and staff members are in a unique position to identify and recognize students who may be in distress or experiencing a crisis. As a faculty or staff member, you are often the first to see a glimpse of a student in trouble and may be the first person a student turns to for help.

You have the ability to identify and recognize students in crisis and you can make a difference. Drastic changes in mood or behavior, skipping classes, failing to hand in assignments, or plunging grades are all warning signs that should not be ignored. Often, academic issues are a result of mental health issues. Once these issues are resolved, students can thrive academically.

If you recognize these signs in a student please refer them to the TCU Counseling Center. Call 817-257-7863 for guidance on how to question, persuade, and refer a student in need. Encourage your students to come to the TCU Counseling & Mental Health Center located in Jarvis Hall. Walk-in crisis appointments are available or students can call 817-257-7863 to schedule an appointment. All appointments are confidential and the records are separate from student’s educational records.

 

Resources: Know your resources & get involved

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