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Students- Helping Someone in Crisis








Risk Factors
Warning Signs
Tips in  "How to Ask the Suicide Question"
Asking the Question: "Are You Thinking About Committing Suicide?"
Emergency Situation! Don't Expect to Be a Therapist, Be a Friend  


A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn't mean that help isn't wanted.

Most people who consider suicide don't want to die- they just want to stop hurting. 

Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously.  

Speak up if you're concerned and seek out professional help immediately! Through understanding, reassurance, and support, you can help your friend or loved one overcome thoughts of suicide.


Risk Factors for Suicide
• Being fired or expelled from school
• A recent unwanted move
• Loss of any major relationship
• Death of a spouse, child, or best friend; especially if by suicide
• Diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness
• Sudden unexpected loss of freedom
• Anticipated loss of financial security
• Loss of a cherished therapist, counselor or teacher
• Fear of becoming a burden to others
Warning Signs for Suicide

• Any previous suicide attempt
• Acquiring a gun or stockpiling pills
• Co-occurring depression, moodiness or hopelessness
• Putting personal affairs in order
• Giving away prized possessions
• Sudden interest or disinterest in religion
• Drug or alcohol abuse, or relapse after a period of recovery
• Unexplained anger, aggression and/or irritability




Guides for Interactions

  • Talk to the person in private
  • Listen carefully
  • Show concern and interest
  • Avoid criticizing or being judgmental
  • Involve yourself only as much as you feel comfortable; be careful about becoming overly involved
  • If the person resists help, you may want to consult the Counseling Center at 423-439-4841 to discuss your concerns.

  Be Willing to Listen

  • Be non-judgmental- don't debate whether suicide is right or wrong.
  • Be direct and open about suicide, your concerns, and what you observe.
  • Be available and show interest, understanding, and support.
  • Remain calm and take the lead in a soothing manner ("I am quite interested to hear what's bothering you. Can you tell me about it?").
  • If he/she is showing signs of emotional distress, don't be afraid to ask whether he/she is considering suicide, or if he/she has a particular plan or method in mind.
  • Offer hope
  • Do not attempt to argue someone out of suicide. Rather, let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone, that suicidal feelings are temporary and that depression can be treated.


  • Overwhelming the student with information or complicated solutions.
  • Arguing with student's irrational thoughts ("You have nothing really to worry about, your grades are good").
  • Devaluing the information presented ("It's not as bad as you think" or "Don't worry, you have everything going for you").
  • Assuming the person will get over the depression or anxiety without treatment.

  Making a Referral to the Counseling Center

  • You CAN refer a fellow student to the Counseling Center; help them set up an appointment (439-4841).
  • Faculty or staff person can also refer a student by having the student call the Counseling Center (423-439-4841).
  • To be most effective, have the student make the call in your presence.
  • You can walk the student over to the Counseling Center.
  • You can request assistance from Campus Police (423-439-4480) if concerned that a student may be at risk of hurting self or others.



Helpful Information in Times of Crisis and Emergency

If you know someone in an emergency situation that:

  • Is having thoughts and plans to hurt themselves or someone else
  • Is engaging in a behavior that is life threatening
  • Is threatening or talking about hurting or killing him/herself
  • Is looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
  • Is talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary
  • Has been assaulted, physically or sexually



Depending upon the nature, location, and timing of an emergency, your options are:  

ETSU Campus Police
 The police will assess the situation, contact a counselor-on-call, and, if necessary, have the person transported to a hospital for care and treatment.
Phone: 423-439-4480
Off-Campus Police
 Dial 911 off campus to summon local police who will assess the situation and, if necessary, arrange for transportation of the person to a hospital for care and treatment. 
Dial 911
Frontier Health Crisis Invention
Provides evaluation and arrangement for hospitalization as necessary.
Phone: 1-877-928-9062
 Suicide hotlines provide 24-hr available servive to assist individuals if help is needed. The call is anonymous, and callers may receive advice, guidance, and brief counsel.
Infoline Suicide Hotline            1-800-203-1234
National Runaway & Suicide Hotline                                          1-800-621-4000
Suicide Prevention National Lifeline                                         1-800-273-TALK




Students Supporting Students


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Additional Intervention Resources


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