Let’s Talk About The Numbers
Suicide is a concerning public health issue that may result from various risk factors. Based on statistics, suicide is on the 10th spot for the leading causes of death in the United States. In 2019, suicide cases totaled 47,511, with an average of 130 incidents per day. California has the highest number of suicide cases, with 4,436 deaths in the same year among all US states.
For teens and young adults ranging from 15-24 years old, this is the 2nd top reason as a cause of death. Diving deeper into this, from the total number of 29,771 death cases among young individuals, 5,954 are from suicide. Every 1 hour and 28 minutes, there is one young person who has inflicted self-harm and fatally lost his/her life. In terms of college and university students, the ratio of suicide cases is 7 out of 100,000, a number that is still considered alarming for individuals experiencing new phases in life.
The statistics show how alarming suicide is among teens and young adults, mainly as the age group covers college students. While these numbers are at a high rate, suicide is very much preventable. Anyone can provide help and support by educating themselves with some knowledge on facts, warning signs, risk factors, and knowing the proper action plans if you or someone you know is in a crisis.
The Psychology Behind Suicidal Behavior
College may seem an exciting adventure for students right after graduating high school. But it is also the time where personal crisis and emotional instability may get triggered by different factors. These transitions can significantly affect teens and, unfortunately, might be the root cause of suicide.
The data mentioned above covers various reasons why individuals, especially teens and young adults, are at risk. To further understand this health concern and find ways to prevent it, we need an overview of its corresponding science.
As some experts note, suicide has the reappearance of one major factor among those who are more at risk, specifically the lack of social connection. This particular reason has an adapted term used by suicidologists in which they call “perceived burdensomeness.” The term is used to describe being unwanted and how someone treats oneself as a burden to others. Professionals in such a field clearly explained that as humans, we have the innate ability for self-preservation. That means that it is a realistic idea for people to protect themselves from things that might cause them harm. However, people with suicidal tendencies get lost in this natural ability and eventually normalize pain and suffering as part of their daily lives. As a result, such people overcome their fear of death and become suicidal.
Suicidologists also consider the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide as a helpful insight on understanding such behavior among people. This theory revolves around two main concepts: (1) the desire with the concept of death and (2) the capacity of someone to harm oneself. Due to the factors that can trigger a person to die by suicide, this increases the impulse of someone to embrace the idea of dying and, eventually, inflicting self-harm.
Specific Groups who are at High-Risk
The risk factors of suicide can be considered universal. However, certain groups of the population are more prone to having suicidal tendencies. These groups vary in age, gender, race, and a lot of demographic criteria. Some of them are listed below:
- People with Psychiatric Tendencies – This group includes those people with mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. Possible combinations of mental problems might exist in a certain individual, which increases the risk for that person to engage in a suicidal act. It is better to quickly address any suicidal thoughts from a person so that a proper plan of action can be implemented and reduce any suicidal symptoms. The following organizations can be reached if you or anyone you know has mental struggles:
- National Institute of Mental Health – This is a helpful resource to reach out to if they are currently going through any mental disorders. They have contact details of treatment centers and important numbers for suicidal help.
- MentalHealth.gov – They have a comprehensive resource for mental health information and even offer support to their families.
- Treatment Advocacy Center – It is their advocacy to help persons and families combat mental health disorders. Their website contains extensive research and statistics on mental health.
- Middle-aged People – This group has the highest rate of deaths from suicide, amounting to 80% of the total number. Several factors can be at play in why such numbers reflect in this specific age group. The most common ones include available access to lethal weapons and substances, adult crisis, bankruptcy or financial losses, etc.
- American Indian (Young Adults)– Although the risk factors are similar among other populations, their specific group faces more struggles, including cultural distress, historical trauma, financial burdens or poverty, and geographical isolation/lack of social connection. In a study conducted among different racial groups, American Indian females and males increased suicide-related deaths by 139% and 71%, respectively, in 10 years.
- Youth – The second leading cause of death among persons within the age group of 10-24 years old is suicide. One of the prominent stigmas surrounding this with the youth is that others claim they are “just using it to grab attention.” However, like other individuals who experience mental and emotional stress, their voices also need to be heard. When you or you know someone young is going through this, never hesitate to reach out to a health professional and seek help. Below are specific organizations that can help this particular population:
- Youth Suicide Prevention Program – This organization focuses its efforts to address and help the youth who have suicidal tendencies. They have data resources and guides on how to open the conversation about suicide among young people properly.
- Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide – One of their main advocacies is to stop the stigma about teen suicide. Their website has complete resources to empower teens and encourage them to speak up and voice their inner struggles. They also have online training programs and seminars for the youth.
- Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program – They have a comprehensive list of prevention resources for teens at risk of suicide. They collaborate and partner with support networks and communities to strengthen their campaign and advocacy.
- Veterans – Military service is one of the toughest job commitments out there. Men and women who serve in the military are considered our heroes but behind their brave and courageous smiles is a constant mental and emotional struggle. In 2018, 6,435 U.S . veterans died from suicide. It was also determined that 69.4% of male veterans and 41.9% of female veterans use firearms as their method of dying by suicide.
- LGBTQ+ – This group primarily consists of young individuals with diverse gender and identity preferences. People in this group mostly feel discriminated against as some people see them as outside the norm. More than 80% of LGBTQ+ youth have been threatened or assaulted due to their gender orientation and are more likely to experience mental and emotional struggles with depression and trauma. As research suggests, strong family affirmations and community support lessen the chances for these individuals to have suicidal tendencies. Here are some major organizations that advocate for this group:
- The Trevor Project – They are top organizations to provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to individuals who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community. They have a 24/7 hotline and training modules for youth professionals.
- Family Acceptance Project – It is a research-based organization aiming to help members of the LGBTQ+ community who are at risk of suicidal tendencies. They cover associated issues with suicide, including homelessness, drug use, and HIV.
- It Gets Better Project – They are a nonprofit organization to uplift members of the LGBTQ+ community and help them overcome any identity struggles.
From the list of specific groups, we will focus on the link between college students and suicide. As college is a new phase being experienced by most people in the age group, how is suicide an alarming issue among such people?
Specific Risk Factors Among College Students
In a college setting, the lack of social connections can trigger an individual to have suicidal thoughts. But it is also essential to consider that the factors that can cause suicide are multi-determined. It can be a mixture of internal and external reasons why someone would be open to such a concept.
Taking into consideration the environment for colleges and universities, here are some factors to keep in mind:
- Previous suicide attempts – College students may have past experiences that may have triggered them to take their own life. According to the American Association of Suicidology study, there are 1,187,775 suicidal attempts in the US for 2019 with non-fatal outcomes. This staggering number shows a very concerning percentage for people having suicidal tendencies in one year.
- Mental illness, such as depression – There has been a term coined where there is a type of depression that affects college students. Although not a complete diagnosis, college depression is a mood disorder that causes a feeling of continual sadness or loss of interest consistently in something during your college years. Depression during this time may come from different causes such as problems in academic work, financial struggles, family issues, identity crisis, and so much more.
- Social isolation – Although college may seem an exhilarating and adventurous experience, social isolation can still be possible due to several reasons. Students may have experienced traumatic events that might trigger them to shut themselves out from the people they know and the whole community.
- Financial problems – Struggle with finances is another risk factor that can contribute to the motivation of an individual to perceive suicidal thoughts. In college, one’s tuition is enough to cause a mental burden. The pressure to keep up with the payments, especially with those who have school debt, tends to bottle their emotions. As one of the escapes from this struggle, some people, unfortunately, find their way into dying by suicide.
- Substance use disorder – College life is one of the high times when someone engages in experimenting with substances. Added to this, parties and get-togethers are the most prevalent leisures for students stressed from their schoolwork. Due to pressure from peers and the curiosity to try something new, individuals have started to use illegal drugs to gather connections and feel the need to belong in a group.
- Bullying – This specific risk factor has been an ongoing problem in colleges and universities. Bullying is the aggressive behavior intentionally shown by a particular individual or group of people to emphasize the imbalance in power and authority characteristically. Many students experience this issue, especially among first-year college students who are new to the environment and seem to appear vulnerable from older peers.
- Relationship problems – Such risk factors are shared among the age group as most college students engage in romantic relationships. However, problems may arise due to certain factors, especially physical violence, money troubles, or third-party mishaps. As the involved age group is more vulnerable to emotional instability in getting into a relationship, decision-making might be complex and result in trauma, depression, or mental breakdown. Sadly, some are inclined to die by suicide as a way for them to cope with their emotional battles.
- Sexual violence – Another concerning risk factor among people who are more prone to suicide is having to experience sexual assault. Some college students may have partners that use violence to dominate the relationship. The trauma from this type of abuse often leads to suicidal tendencies.
Protective Factors that Can Reduce the Risk
Any risk factors involved or present in a person’s environment can greatly increase the chances of someone dying by suicide. But a good thing to consider is the protective factors that can motivate an individual to avoid having suicidal tendencies. The same factors can also be applied to teens and young adults. Here are some protective factors to consider:
- Having a positive self-image – People need to have a positive view of how they see themselves as this will have an overall impact on the way they value their lives.
- Strong problem-solving skills – Individuals who take life’s challenges as a way to make themselves wiser and stronger are less likely to have suicidal tendencies. They see a problem as a way for them to grow and learn from mistakes as well.
- Spiritual life/faith – Having a belief system in your life can help you find motivation and inspiration.
- Close family ties – Strong connections with your family members can make a difference in your support system and learning environment. Such primary people in your life can make a huge impact on how you see the world on a positive note.
- Strong support systems – Belonging in a supportive group of friends or joining wellness organizations can increase your positive view of life. Being influenced by the right people can do wonders for your mental and emotional well-being.
- Involvement in activities that one enjoys – Finding the things that you love doing and sticking to these activities can greatly enhance your outlook in life. It will also keep you busy and put your happiness in the right place.
- Community connectedness – A supportive community where there are safe spaces to connect and motivate each other is an ideal environment to shut down any suicidal thoughts.
- Has access to treatment – Suicide can be prevented, especially if you seek treatment early on. People who are not afraid to seek help and surrender themselves to treatment facilities have more chances to get better.
Knowing the Signs
Warning signs are behaviors or patterns that signify someone is thinking about suicide. To prevent suicidal tendencies, look for warning signs that someone is about to self-harm:
- Withdrawal – If you notice a change of behavior of someone, especially in losing his/her interest in previous activities that he/she is enjoying, then it is better to consider this as a warning sign. The loss of enjoyment in doing your regular activities can be a concern, especially if the person does his/her activities daily.
- Changes in Sleep – People who are experiencing a crisis may experience a shift in their sleep. They either get too much sleep or do not have any at all.
- Risky Behavior – This type of change can be seen in different situations such as driving carelessly under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol, harming oneself intentionally, committing crimes, and the like. The pattern highlights how someone with this type of warning sign doesn’t care what happens to them in the long run.
- Substance Abuse and Excessive Alcohol Intake – This is noticeable, especially to those who haven’t shown any interest in liquor or drugs before.
- Unexplainable body pain – Those that have suicidal tendencies do experience physical pain, especially when they are most stressed or in a crisis. Such pain can revolve around having severe headaches, muscle pains, or fatigue.
- Saying goodbye – An observable behavior among those with suicidal thoughts is saying goodbye to their loved ones. This warning sign shows how ready the individual is to leave his/her loved ones by imparting farewell messages.
- Giving away important possessions – A person giving away a sentimental material or object can also be considered a warning sign. The thought of such objects not being important anymore is one of their coping mechanisms to fall into the idea of suicide.
- Talking or expressing how they want to die – There are different methods for expressing this warning sign. Aside from verbally conveying this to others, some people with suicidal thoughts also express these through drawings or art, letters, an entry into their journal, homework, etc.
- Feeling hopeless – The use of language can highlight someone who is going through a chaotic situation in their life. Some phrases to consider as a warning sign include:
- “Nothing will get better.”
- “I am a hopeless case.”
- “It is much better if I’m gone.”
- Looking for a way to harm/kill themselves – Individuals sometimes search for methods on the internet or ask people how to do it. The most common searches involve how to buy weapons or how to purchase certain toxic substances or drugs.
- Always being anxious or agitated – It is a normal feeling to get worried at times. Still, those people who have suicidal tendencies tend to experience these behaviors for no apparent reason.
Warning signs can be interpreted differently, so make sure to be alert always, especially if someone you know and love is showing one or a combination of any warning signs listed above.
How to Get Help
If you are experiencing a crisis or contemplating suicidal thoughts, get the help you need! Remember that seeking help is valid, and it is okay to reach out to someone about what you’re feeling. Here are the leading emergency contacts that you can reach out to:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – This is the most significant national network of crisis centers across the United States that offer free and safe emotional support to individuals in a complete schedule of 24 hours and seven days. These are the necessary contact details to keep note of:
- 911 – This is the standard emergency hotline that you can reach out to if an emergency arises, especially when it comes to inflicting self-harm. A trained operator will help and guide you on the following steps to save your life.
- Crisis Text Line – It is a free text messaging platform that is open 24/7 and offers support to those who are at risk of suicide. Since 2013, more than 75 million text messages are exchanged within the resource.
- Text HOME to 741741 (24/7)
We also have here helpful resources and official websites for suicide prevention that you can check to know more about this subject and how to ask for help:
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center – Their online portal is a helpful resource for knowing facts, statistics, protocols, and research about suicide. They share a lot of information and knowledge from professionals and update the people with news and events.
- American Association of Suicidology– They are one of the top organizations in the world that help people with suicide. They are complete in providing training and accreditation for mental and physical health providers. They also have partnerships with schools and media outlets advocating suicide prevention. Moreover, they are connected with many crisis intervention centers and volunteers, including survivors supporting the organization’s cause.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – This foundation has created a community of support through survivors of suicidal attempts where they share their personal stories in the hopes of helping others who are at risk. They have community programs in local areas where they gather and support one another through different organization events and activities.
Aside from these primary contacts to dial, there is also a more comprehensive list that you can check here so that you will be able to determine the correct organizations or offices that are nearer to your location.
Helping Others and Starting the Conversation
Individuals at risk of suicide need an outlet to connect to and be supported by someone who truly cares for them.
If someone you know or close to you is suicidal, make sure to follow the steps and strategies below on how to provide comfort and help:
- Open the conversation
- Starting the conversation with a person with suicidal tendencies is often tricky, but it can hugely make a difference in helping out with the right ways. Do some research first to ensure you have the right resources in mind while talking to the individual (save the official dial numbers of helpful organizations on your phone too).
- It would be great to find a comfortable place where the two of you can sit and talk privately. Fewer distractions mean that you can focus more on helping the person and have more time to support him/her in what they are experiencing.
- Inform the person why you have asked them to talk with you. This can assure them of your intention in helping out. An example would be like, “I’ve noticed that you have stopped painting. I know that this is your passion, I’m a bit concerned that you’re not enjoying it anymore. Can you let me know what’s wrong?“
- Listen to the person, let them know you’re worried about them, and then reassure them.
- Knowing the full details will be beneficial in understanding the situation of the person, so get as much information as you can while listening. Ask open-ended questions to let them share more of their experience.
- Reassure them that you understand what they say by summarizing the things that they have just shared.
- Validate what they feel and assure them that you are there to provide support as much as you can. An example of validation can be like, “It must be hard for you to go through such a problem. I completely understand why you’re stressed these days.”
- Show your appreciation as well that they are willing to share what they’re going through with you by saying words like, “Thank you for letting me know about what you’re feeling. I am here to help you in any way that I can.”
- Create a strategic plan for the person’s safety
- If the individual has opened up about suicidal thoughts, provide support by opening options in seeking treatment. Help them connect to a mental health service provider or crisis intervention center to guide them through their experiences.
- Once they have pursued professional help, continue to offer support by checking up on them regularly and making them feel valued.
- When an emergency arises, act quickly.
- An emergency can arise if the person has access to means or methods of inflicting self-harm. If you see any weapons in the vicinity, remove this immediately.
- Stay with the person and call an emergency response team to help.
- Avoid putting yourself in danger, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
- Things to avoid during the conversation
- Never make the person feel guilty about the situation. Blaming the individual might cause more harm than good as this will only increase the chances for them to opt for suicide. Avoid phrases like, “How could you be so selfish and heartless?“, “Your selfish decisions will burden your family.” and “Just get a grip of yourself!“
- Avoid promising a person to keep their suicidal motives a secret. He/she might have issues trusting you, but it is better to reach out to the right people about what they are going through.
Advantage of social media for suicide reporting
It is a given fact that social media is a significant part of a college student’s life. According to one study, 94% of freshmen college students use social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram. There are many benefits in using such sites and applications, including creating connections or socializing with people, being updated in news and research, and leisure time.
Of course, there are two sides to a coin. Negative behaviors or inappropriate information can be seen or accessed into such channels, thus promoting bad habits or falling into dangerous consequences. In terms of suicide, research has concluded that 240 websites come up as search results from searching prosuicide terms. Prosuicide channels include chat rooms and online discussions. Such results highlight how people, especially the young age groups, can easily access information, including prosuicide searches.
In terms of behaviors linked to suicide, one example is cyberbullying. This is an aggressive act or conduct carried out by an individual or group of people in repetitive patterns or over time to a vulnerable victim through digital forms. Due to the trauma they experience from such behaviors, victims are more prone to mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts.
If you happen to know someone who has suicidal tendencies, there are ways to report the situation via social media. You can send them a private message encouraging them to call the Lifeline at Suicide Lifeline (800) 273.TALK (8255). You can also show help and support by contacting the safety teams on the various social media channels below:
- Facebook – You can file an anonymous report of someone as suicidal by going to Facebook’s safety guidelines page under Report Suicidal Content. Facebook’s safety team will deliver an email with the Lifeline number to the reported person.
- Twitter – You can go to their Help Center and Select the “Self-Harm” tab for the platform to send an email to the reported individual who is suicidal. This will also alert the social media site to send a direct message to the Lifeline number.
- Instagram – You can check their Help Center and report the specific individual that shared the suicidal post or content.
- Youtube – Click on the flag icon under a video and select, “Harmful Dangerous Acts” option and then click “Suicide or Self-Injury.” The platform will review the video and send the Lifeline number to the owner of the reported content.
Treatment and Professional Help
Suicide is preventable, and there are effective ways on how to combat this issue. Treatment centers and facilities are available across the country to ensure you have access to professional help and assistance. Remember that when you or someone you love is experiencing depression or showing suicidal tendencies for longer than a week now, make sure to call the crisis hotline numbers to get the needed help. Here are some treatment recommendations that you can check:
- Psychotherapy – They also call it “talk therapy,” where a professional or mental health provider starts a conversation session with his/her patient to address various types of mental concerns and emotional struggles. This method is a helpful way for anyone to express what they’re feeling and eventually ease their worries and problems, thus, improving their overall mental health and well-being. There are various types of psychotherapy, and this depends on the current case of the patient on what method would be the best fit for them:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This method focuses on helping people change their negative behavioral patterns and opt for more functional behaviors to improve their overall health.
- Interpersonal Therapy – This is more of a short-term kind of treatment where it tends to understand and address interpersonal issues of the patient like bottled-up emotions, unresolved grief, and mourning or shifts in work roles. Doing this kind of method improves their way of communicating their feelings and is used more in treating depression.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy – In terms of regulating emotions, this is the recommended method to use. What makes this a great type of therapy is how it teaches and motivates the patient to learn new skills to overcome unhealthy behavior.
- Psychodynamic Therapy – Such a method is based on how our current behavior is significantly impacted by our childhood experiences and repetitive unconscious emotions. This focuses on improving self-awareness so that the patient can fully understand his/her actions and take charge of his decisions in life.
- Psychoanalysis – This method applies the same strategy as Psychodynamic Therapy but is more intensive. It usually goes to having three or more sessions in a week.
- Supportive Therapy – It uses the approach of guiding and encouraging the patient in developing their resources. The method allows them to build self-esteem, lower their anxiety levels, and have stronger community connections with people.
- Psychiatric Medications – Professionals and healthcare providers play a significant role in making sure that suicidal risk can be lessened and managed. Pharmacological intervention helps manage mental disorders and can reduce suicidal tendencies in patients. It must be noted that individuals may be prescribed various medications, depending on the underlying concern. It is also essential to consider the level of toxicity to such medical treatments to ensure the patient’s safety. Here are some common medications to help lessen suicidal risk:
- Lithium Pharmacotherapy – This medication has been shown to reduce the suicidal risk from people who have Bipolar Disorder and Depression. Professionals prescribe this in sustained low doses or low concentrations for safe and effective results.
- Antidepressants – They are best to reduce the symptoms of depression. There are varieties of antidepressants, and it depends on what type will work well with you. It is recommended to note that antidepressants can take time before you can notice your symptoms improving. Some take effect within 2-3 weeks, while others take about six weeks or more. Being patient is vital with these medications, and always talks to your doctor or health professional about adequately managing your symptoms.
- Antipsychotics – This particular medication is used as a treatment for major depression and bipolar depressive disorders. It is important to note that patients prescribed this treatment should be closely monitored as changes in behavior might come into play before, during, or after its intake.
- Anti-anxiety agents – As anxiety is one of the common symptoms and risk factors in suicidal individuals, reducing it might be helpful to lessen the tendency of suicide. The medication increases the chemical concentration of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, to ease stress levels in the body.
- Inpatient Recovery – Inpatient treatment requires 24/7 monitoring for those who are in emergency medical situations related to suicide. When someone is admitted for inpatient care, staff and medical personnel ensure that risk factors will be controlled to ease the crisis. They will also closely check for any access to lethal weapons, substances, or anything that might cause harm to the individual. Professionals develop a personal treatment plan and strategize the ideal recovery efforts on a case-by-case basis. Here are some of the services offered in inpatient centers:
- Intake evaluation – This is where the health professionals or treatment staff will be evaluating the patient’s case, history, mental health diagnoses, and the likes. From this, they will be crafting a customized treatment plan for the person.
- Detoxification – If the patient’s suicidal tendencies are associated with drug addiction, the treatment facility offers a detoxification program. This is to help the person recover from withdrawal symptoms. This is an important process before proceeding with the treatment plan.
- Pharmacotherapy – Depending on the treatment plan, the healthcare professionals might include pharmacological interventions. These include antidepressants or anti-anxiety agents.
- Individual Therapy – These are one on one sessions with a therapist where he/she will be able to address your emotions, thoughts, and behavior. This is a helpful therapy where recovery techniques will be introduced and explained.
- Group Counselling – This type of therapy involves a group of individuals within a session where a person can practice socialization techniques. They are encouraged to share experiences among the group.
- Aftercare Planning – After completing the inpatient stay at the facility, the healthcare providers will be giving out a personalized aftercare plan to maintain safety and betterment to the patient.
What makes a college/university mental-health friendly?
A lot of factors can have a significant effect on the mental health of college students. The stress can be rooted in piling academic work, personal struggles, financial problems, family disputes, and more. According to Suicide Resource Prevention Center, one-fifth of college students experience mental disorders, and more are receiving mental health services upon their enrollment into a college program. Being in an ideal environment where your mental health can be at ease is a significant factor to lessen the chances of suicide. Almost all colleges and universities have mental health facilities that guide and support their students anytime they experience mental breakdowns. This kind of initiative from schools reassures students that one of the academy’s priorities is to promote mental health wellness. To give you a breakdown of what makes a college mental-health friendly, here are some of the reasons you need to take note of:
- Partnering with The Jed Foundation – They are a nonprofit organization that mainly partners with different schools and colleges to promote the well-being of the students, especially their emotional and mental health. One of their objectives is to support the youth, especially college students, who are in a lot of transition as they enter a new phase in their life which is adulthood. Campuses all over the US have connected with the organization so that their mental health services will be strengthened further.
- Getting a licensed Psychiatrist – Such a professional is crucial in managing the student body’s mental health, especially to those students with underlying mental disorders. One of the main benefits of having the school’s very own Psychiatrist is the quick access for prescription of needed medications if a crisis comes into play. This is also a promising approach for a college to ensure that their students are in a safe college environment.
- Having a healthy balance between academic work, co-curricular activities, and positive social cultures – The adjustment of some students to college life may be tricky at first. But having the school guide them through and making sure that their focus is well-balanced between valuable things is necessary to avoid stress. Students often feel overloaded with projects, paperwork, and exams. But if a school’s mental health services unit is always guiding them on time management, focus techniques, and the likes, their coping mechanism can be quickly settled.
- Comprehensive freshmen orientation – A mental-health-friendly college crafts an extensive orientation program for new students to ensure a smooth transition from their high school years right to the first day of their college journey. The orientation programs may include a substantial guide on what they can expect as a college student, knowing the school’s programs and implemented systems, FAQ sessions, and event parent’s orientation.
- 24/7 Emergency Services Response team – To ensure that your college is prepared and ready for worst-case scenarios, check if they have a dedicated team for emergency responses. A security staff, medical personnel, tech support, and the likes are expected to be included in this group to ensure that help is always ready and on the go.
How to Support Suicide Survivors
Suicide is impossible to be predicted especially when and where this might happen. Health professionals try their best to help and support a patient, but even they can’t predict the future. What makes it harder to grasp is that suicide is such a quick process. Based on a study, 70% of suicide survivors tried to take their lives after 1 hour of thinking about doing it. Losing someone dear to you due to suicide is a harrowing experience in the process. Those who were left behind include family, friends, co-workers, and mental health practitioners. For some, the grieving process might have a more complex impact. This is because suicide is still considered by many as a stigma in the community. People tend to have prejudiced assumptions about suicide. Examples of such include:
- Blaming family members.
- Overanalyzing the cause or reason.
- Family or relatives were feeling guilty about what happened.
So how can one help and support the people who were left behind? Here are some expert recommendations:
- Help normalize feelings of grief. It would be a big help if a person can remind others that grief is part of the process. The family can still hold the same kinds of rituals or ceremonies to honor their loved one. Just like someone who died from a sudden heart attack, someone who died from suicide is no different and deserves to be respected.
- Ease the guilt that they might be feeling. Those who lost a loved one due to suicide may think of the what-ifs and things they would have done if they had known about it beforehand. However, it is a big help to remind such survivors that even mental health professionals can’t predict what will happen to the victims. This can reduce their feeling of guilt and lessen the stress that they feel in grieving.
- Respect a family’s grieving process. Some may grieve for a more extended period while others move forward at a steady pace. Whatever kind of transition a family is going through, don’t force them into following a certain standard of a grieving process.
- If they are comfortable talking about their lost loved one, let them. Others find sharing experiences or details about their departed loved one comforting. If they have expressed this, give them the free space to share anything that they want about the victim’s life.
- Provide resources. You can share resources from supporting organizations that assist such kinds of matters, including extending help to survivors of suicide loss.
National Suicide Resources
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: The focus of this mental health organization is to provide healthcare and local counseling programs and crisis intervention resources to all states in the US.
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): The organization advocates the awareness of suicide prevention through studies, research, and clinical trials.
- I’m Alive: The first online crisis center operated by pure volunteers trained and certified in crisis intervention situations.
- Suicide.org: A nonprofit organization complete with emergency suicide hotlines and other suicide awareness tools and resources with specific categories organized for all 50 states.
- Suicidology.org: They are a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to suicide prevention advocacies. They also provide thorough training for suicide specialists and counselors.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: This resource provides a support group to help those at-risk in your local area.
- Samaritans.org: It is an online counseling program offering confidential digital therapy. The session takes place via email or chats for individuals who are depressed or having suicidal thoughts.
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: Their online platform has a support group locator tool to find a support group.
- NAMI Connection: They have helpful programs offered locally throughout the country to provide peer-to-peer support for people with mental illness. They aim to share stories of hope and encouragement with everyone.
- Mental Health America: They have peer services programs that provide counseling, support groups, and skill-building training among different branch sites across the US.
Resources for Others Who Need Help
- Befrienders.org: It is an international organization offering resources to those with a suicidal friend or family member.
- The Bright Side: This is a local community resource offering work-from-home opportunities for volunteers and donors who would like to make help in any way they can.
- The Jason Foundation: They seek prospective counselors and educators who specialize in youth crisis intervention and suicide prevention awareness.
- Network for Good: Highlights a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities among different suicide prevention organizations all over the country.
Valuable Resources for College Students
- ULifeline: This is the digital channel of The Jed Foundation campus program. ULifeline offers confidential online support for college students with mental health struggles.
- American College Health Association: It has a helpful list of resources evolving around college-related topics’ general health and mental health. It also has resources about LGBT struggles and campus violence.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: This handy resource helps you connect to a local licensed therapist in your area for easier access.
- Students Against Depression: The efforts included in this resource are from students to help other students in crisis. It shares a list of helpful emergency numbers and peer counseling services.
Resources for Survivors of Suicide Loss
- I’ve Lost Someone: This is the suicide survivor channel of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It provides comprehensive resources for both grief support and long-term care services.
- Alliance of Hope: They have a community-wide forum and memorial message board specially dedicated to those who have lost their lives to suicide.
- Survivors of Suicide (SOS): It is an online support resource for suicide survivors, including member-protected discussion boards, special memorials, and dedication spaces.