Depression and Suicide
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common afflictions among college students. Depression is not a sign of weakness. Depression can be treated, and early treatment can help prevent suicide. Depression can often follow a major change in life circumstance (i.e., death in the family), a relationship breakup, or exacerbations of stress.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling “down” or sad
- Lack of enthusiasm for things that used to be enjoyable (i.e., spending time with friends)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Fatigue or decreased energy
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Changes in eating habits
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Persistent aches and pains, digestive troubles, or headaches that do not get better, even with treatment
Anyone who expresses suicidal thoughts or tendencies should be taken very, very seriously. Do not hesitate to get help or call a suicide helpline (such as 1-800-SUICIDE) immediately. Symptoms that someone is contemplating suicide include:
- A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Depression that gets worse
- Giving away prized belongings
- Having a "death wish" -- tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, like driving through red lights
- Saying things like "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
- Talking about suicide (killing oneself)
Your friend calls you on the phone crying hysterically because her boyfriend just broke up with her. You know it was her first serious relationship and they did everything together. She keeps saying, “You just don’t understand, you don’t understand. I don’t want to live without him.” Clearly she is distraught. What do you do?
Make the first move:
- Listen to your friend. Try not to act shocked, surprised, or challenge her.
- Take it seriously. This is a cry for help.
- Talk with her in private. Let her know that you care about her.
- Encourage her to get help. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. Offer
to go with her to counseling, and know where to go.
- If suicidal, get help immediately (Counseling Center,
Public Safety, 9-1-1). Separate the person from means of suicide, such as weapons, firearms, medications, etc.
- Be aware of difficult times and events (i.e., birthdays, anniversaries).
Word of Caution
You may do your very best to help someone who is depressed or suicidal and your intervention may not be successful. It is a risk that you need to consider before becoming involved. Be sure to take care of yourself in these situations and get any help that you may need.
Visit: www.halfofus.com for more information about mental health issues among college students.
We express our appreciation to the University of Arizona C.A.T.S. Life Skills Program for allowing us to use modified versions of their STEP UP! Program content in this USI campus initiative.