University of Southern Indiana

Depression and Suicide

Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health issues 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. a death in the family), a relationship breakup, or an exacerbation of stress.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Feeling "down" or sad
  • Lack of enthusiasm for things that used to be enjoyable (e.g. 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

Signs that someone is contemplating suicide
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. This is an emergency situation.

  • A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • Always talking 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

Example
Your friend calls you 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.
  • If suicidal, get help immediately. Call Public Safety or 911. Separate the person from means of suicide, such as weapons, firearms, medications, etc.
  • Be aware of difficult times and events (i.e. birthdays, anniversaries).

A 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 you need to consider. Be sure to take care of yourself and get any help that you may need.

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