Statistics show that you are more likely to encounter someone (friend, student, coworker, or member of the community) in an emotional or mental health crisis than someone having a heart attack. Suicidal ideation is not because someone is wanting to die or that they are weak; rather, they are wanting to end the pain that has become unbearable. Being a caring person who can listen and find help may mean all the difference in a person’s life.
Suicidality is not a phase or a way to seek attention. Individuals who are suicidal are reaching out for help.
How can you tell if someone is at risk?
What are the signs of suicide?
Is the person you are concerned about showing any of the signs listed below? Use the mnemonic "IS PATH WARM" as an easy way to learn and remember the signs of suicide
|I||Ideation||Talking about suicide and wanting to die. Looking for ways to die, such as researching how to take one’s life.|
|S||Substance abuse||A sudden increase or excessive use of drugs or alcohol. Someone who does not use alcohol or drugs suddenly using them and in excess.|
|P||Purposelessness||Stating that there is no reason for living. Not having a sense of purpose in their life.|
|A||Anxiety||Agitation, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.|
|T||Trapped||Feeling trapped and feeling that there is no way out. Feeling that there is no need to seek help because it will not do anything.|
|H||Hopelessness||Feeling hopeless about the future or the negative events in their life.|
|W||Withdrawal||Withdrawing from friends, family, social activities and school.|
|A||Anger||Uncontrollable anger. Talking about seeking revenge.|
|R||Recklessness||Acting recklessly or participating in risky activities, seemingly without thinking.|
|M||Mood changes||Dramatic mood changes.|
What do you do if you are concerned about another?
If there has been any self or other harm action taken by the distressed person, call 911 and the TMCC Police: 775-674-7900. In certain situations, you must often make a judgment call.
Someone at mild risk (someone with a mental health concern without risk of suicide) can be provided with the contact information to the TMCC Counseling Center. You may also refer to the Counseling Center website for additional resources.
Always provide the person with the Crisis Call Lifeline (800-273-8255 [TALK]; veterans: press "1"). A person need not be suicidal to utilize these services. They will talk to distressed persons for a variety of reasons, from employment difficulties to finding help for another friend, or even if someone is just feeling lonely.
If you are still concerned, consult with the Counseling Center directly.
After hours, call the Crisis Call Lifeline (800-273-8255 [TALK]; veterans: press "1"). You may also use the online TMCC Incident Report Form.
A person at a high risk for suicide will show the signs (see above for a list). They may make direct statements about self or other harm with an immediate plan. The person may have the means or access to ways to harm themselves. They may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs that could lead to harm.
Even without immediate plans or access to harmful means, a direct statement about suicide should be taken seriously. You may receive the information by a variety of sources: in-person, by phone or by email.
What can you say to a person in distress, while waiting for help?
When you are worried about someone, you may be concerned about saying or doing the wrong thing. It is not about saying exactly the right words. The important thing to do is to show you care. Listen to the person without judgment. Remain patient and accepting.
The conversation might seem negative and uncomfortable, but talking is always a positive step. Share campus resources and refer the person to the TMCC Counseling Center's website.
- You can ask:
- Other things you can say:
What to expect after 911 or the TMCC Police have been notified
Except in cases of medical emergency, the police will respond. When the police arrive, the officers will want to have a conversation with the distressed person to understand the situation.
Police officers care first and foremost about their safety. They are there to support individuals in difficult situations. Neither the caller nor the person in distress are in trouble. The police will transport the distressed student to the hospital if needed unless it is a medical emergency, in which case paramedics will be notified.
In any crisis situation, after it has been resolved, the concerned other should consult with the TMCC Counseling Center for follow-up care. Seeing a friend in distress can be traumatic and it is important that you are able to talk to another about what had occurred.
Being an advocate for another person does not necessarily need to be learned. Empathetic individuals know when to help and being able to listen and be with a person in need is the most important thing. Regardless, additional trainings are always helpful.
If you have an interest in learning more about helping someone who is thinking of suicide, TMCC offers a variety of training opportunities to learn more about how to help a person thinking of suicide.