Know the Warning Signs of Suicide
Early Warning Signs
- Sudden changes in behavior: becoming withdrawn, moody, or irritable.
- Being sad or depressed, crying.
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits.
- Increased frequency and/or quantity of alcohol and/or other drug use.
- Sudden changes in appearance - especially neglect of appearance.
- Restlessness and agitation.
- Overreaction to criticism, overly self-critical.
- Inability to recover from a loss; ongoing and overwhelming feelings of grief.
Late Warning Signs
- Dropping out of activities, increasing isolation and withdrawal.
- Radical personality or behavioral changes.
- Sudden or increasingly dangerous risk-taking behavior.
- Any sudden changes in behavior or mood that have you wondering - trust your gut.
- Making final arrangements; giving things away, putting one's life in order.
- Threatening to commit suicide, openly talking about death, not being around, not being wanted or needed.
- Ironically, sometimes a sudden and inexplicable improvement in behavior or appearance (the personal feels better knowing they have a plan to deal with the pain).
Dealing with a Potentially Suicidal Person
- Take the person seriously (although some people may never give any warning, 80% of people who commit suicide do give some form of warning)
- Acknowledge that a threat of or attempt at suicide is a plea for help; let the person know that you are willing to help him/her.
- Be available to listen, to talk, to be concerned, and to share that you care...but refer the person for professional help.
- Know your personal limits as a helper. You may not feel comfortable trying to help someone cope with a particular problem, but you probably can help him or her get to an agency that can provide the necessary services.
- If during the day, contact University Counseling Services at 828-6200 (MPC) or 828-3964 (Medical Campus) to apprise them of the situation
- If during the evening, call VCU University Police at 828-1234 and ask to speak to the counselor on call.
If the person is in immediate danger, call VCU University Police and stay with the person until help arrives.
- Don't worry about being 'disloyal' - you could be saving a life.
- Attend to yourself. Helping someone who is suicidal is hard, demanding, and draining work and you also need to take care of yourself in the process.
- Don't minimize the situation or the depth of her/his feelings (Avoid saying things like "Oh, it will be much better tomorrow." or "But that is silly, you have everything to live for.")
- Don't be afraid to ask the person if they are so depressed or sad that they want to hurt themselves (e.g. "You seem so upset and discouraged that I'm wondering if you are considering suicide.") - asking will not give the person the idea and doing so communicates that you care.
- Don't over-commit yourself and, therefore, not be able to deliver on what you promise (e.g., "I won't break up with you if you will stop talking about suicide." Or "I will make everything better if you stop thinking about suicide.")
- Don't agree to be bound by confidentiality - especially in this case it is likely that you will need to and should involve others.
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Assertive Behavior
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Coming Out
- Coping with Crisis/Disaster
- Eating Disorders, How to Help a Friend
- Stress from Traumatic Events
- Succeeding in College
- Suicide Help
- Violence, Domestic
- Violence, Intimate
An online resource for college mental health where you can:
- Take a quick 5 to 10 minute self-assessment to learn if a treatable mental health problem could be affecting you or a friend.
- Talk to someone at our counseling service and other local resources.
- Learn about different mental health issues affecting students.
Visit ULifeline Now
Scheduling an Initial Appointment
Must come in person to either location:
Monroe Park Campus
University Student Commons, Room 238
907 Floyd Ave.
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Grant House, B011
1008 East Clay St.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Monday: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
After Hours Emergency
Please call VCU Police dispatcher:
(804) 828-1234 and ask to speak to a therapist.