The Student Who May Be Suicidal

Facts About Suicide

  • Although suicide is a rare event, it is the third leading cause of death among college students.
  • Suicidal states are often associated with major depression, a combination of acute anxiety and depression, post traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, and bipolar disorder.
  • People who are suicidal often tell people about their thoughts or give clues to others about their feelings.

Some factors associated with suicide risk are:

  • suicidal thoughts
  • pessimistic view of the future
  • intense feelings of hopelessness, especially when combined with anxiety
  • feelings of alienation and isolation
  • viewing death as a means of escape from distress
  • previous suicide attempts
  • personal or family history of depression and/or suicide
  • personal or family history of suicide attempts
  • substance abuse
  • history of self-mutilation
  • Be confident to ask directly about suicide. Asking a student if they are suicidal will not put the idea in their head if it isn’t there already and will make a secret no longer secret which is the first step to a solution.


A student who is suicidal and who confides in someone is often ambivalent about suicide and open to discussion.

Students who are at high risk usually have a specific plan, have a means that is lethal (e.g., medication, knife, gun), a time frame in which they will kill themselves and tend to be or feel isolated.