Concerns about Suicide

Concerns About Suicide

How to Help a Friend who has Thoughts of Suicide
Information about Suicide For Faculty

Suicidal thoughts are not uncommon among college students. College is a time of transition, accompanied by feelings of both excitement and uncertainty. College life includes many unique challenges never faced by students before, including living away from home, academic and social pressure, relationship issues, and concerns about the future. Although most students who have suicidal thoughts do not actually attempt suicide, suicidal thoughts can be signs of depression or psychological distress. Although it may feel like it will never end, depression and hopelessness is not a permanent condition. When going through any tough time, it may become difficult to think of solutions to challenging problems and leave one feeling confused or hopeless. Although intense and prolonged feelings of sadness and hopelessness may make suicide seem like the only way to escape your pain, it is important to recognize that suicide is never  the only option. There is always another solution to a problem. However, it may be difficult to see that right now because of the amount of emotional pain you are in.
Each of us experiences stressful events at various times throughout our lives. We may be coping with the loss of a loved one, the break-up of a romantic relationship, pressures with work, family conflict, or financial hardship.The college environment can make it difficult to handle these struggles. For example, many students feel isolated or lonely at times during their college years. While the pain of these struggles is very real, and suicidal thoughts may help one cope with the pain, there are always other possibilities connected to life.  There are people (therapists, friends, family members, clergy) who want to help students figure out how to get through difficult times and  feel like themselves again. Help is available right here at Fordham.

Warning Signs

  • Loss of interest in social activities or friends
  • Preferring to be alone most of the time
  • Changes in appetite (too little or too much)
  • Changes in sleep (too little or too much)
  • Neglect of personal hygiene and/or appearance
  • Fatigue or decreased energy
  • Decline in academic motivation or performance
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Sudden changes in mood
  • Intense feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness, anger, and/or guilt
  • Engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviors, such substance abuse or self-injury
  • Impulsive or aggressive behaviors
  • Preoccupation with death or violence
  • Experience of recent loss, failure, or interpersonal rejection
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Gender Identity Concerns
  • Difficulty adjusting to one's gender identity
  • Previous suicide attempt or a family history of an attempt
  • Verbal warning signs of suicide, either indirect or direct. "I can't go on." "My family would be better off without me",  

"Who cares if I'm not around anyway?" I wish I were dead." Or, "If________, I'll kill myself." (e.g. I fail this course, she leaves me.)

We know that if you are experiencing any of these things, it can be very difficult to reach out to others for help. If you or someone you know are experiencing any of the above, you are already getting help by recognizing a potential problem. We encourage you to find a person or on-campus professional with whom you can confide, share your feelings, or ask advice. You do not need to handle this responsibility on your own. Professionals are standing by at Fordham to assist you, or another student. Below is a list of resources that are available to you for help.
Other resources for information and help:

If you or someone you know might be suicidal, please call or walk over to the Counseling center and let the staff member at the front desk know thats it's urgent. For after hours, you may call the Dean of Students or Campus Security. 
Counseling and Psychological Services
Rose Hill:
718-817-3725 Lower Level O'Hare Hall;
Lincoln Center:
212-636-6225 McMahon Hall Rm. 211
Free and confidential clinical services for students. You may call or walk in to arrange an appointment. Please tell the staff member at the front desk if your situation is urgent. 

Rose Hill:
 718-817-2222 Location: Safety & Security Building (next to Thebaud Hall);  
Lincoln Center:
212-636-6076 Location: Lowenstein Lobby 
The Security Department provides 24-hour, 7 day-a-week coverage at Rose Hill and Lincoln Center. 

Dean of Students
Rose Hill: Christopher Rodgers,
718-817-4755 Location: Keating 100
Lincoln Center: Keith Eldredge,
Location: LL 408D 

Campus Ministry
Rose Hill:
718-817-4501 Location: McGinley 102
Lincoln Center:
Location:Lowenstein 217 

For residents, feel free to reach out to your RD, RA, or FM. For commuters, please reach out to your CFM.


National Suicide Hotline (24 hours) :

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Youth Line (peers provide counseling, information and referrals): 1-800-246-4646

Suicide Assessment - information and referral (Lifenet – 24 hrs.): 1-800-543-3638

The Samaritans (crisis intervention hotline): 212-673-3000

How to Help a Friend who has Thoughts of Suicide


One of the most frightening and upsetting experiences a person can encounter is hearing a friend or loved one say he or she wants to die. Even though such an experience can bring up many difficult questions and concerns, there are steps you can take and information you can learn that may help reduce the risk of someone you care about from seriously harming him/herself. Indeed, given that depression is fairly common among college students, it is important to know what you can do to identify and help a friend in crisis.
  • It is a myth that there is nothing you can do to stop someone who is contemplating suicide. Most crisis situations that lead to suicidal thoughts are time-limited and are accompanied by symptoms of severe depression, such as distorted thinking and extreme emotional distress. A person experiencing marked pain and distress may view suicide as the only way to escape his/her pain. However, simply letting a suicidal friend know that help is available can be the first step through this very difficult time.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your friend directly if he or she is having thoughts of suicide. It is a myth that you will be putting ideas into his or her head by asking. Your friend's response will provide you with important information on how best to proceed in helping him or her.
  • Do not be afraid to ask others for help: you do not have to handle this alone. For example, you can encourage your friend to seek support and/or counseling, confide in a Residential Life staff member of dean, or call CPS for guidance about how best to intervene. If you think that your friend could be at risk of serious harm to him/herself or someone else, you should call Campus Security where a professional staff member will be available to assist you 24 hours a day.

Although some suicides occur without warning, most people at risk of hurting themselves show some signs of distress to the people around them. Below you will find some common warning signs that someone you know may be contemplating suicide:

  • Loss of interest in and/or withdrawal from social activities or friends
  • Participating in social activities but seeming "different" somehow - quieter or more withdrawn
  • Preferring to be alone most of the time
  • Changes in appetite (too little or too much)
  • Changes in sleep (too little or too much)
  • Fatigue or decreased energy
  • Sudden decline in academic motivation or performance
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Sudden changes in mood
  • Expression of intense feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness, anger, and/or guilt
  • Sudden neglect of personal hygiene and/or appearance
  • Engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviors, such as increased use of drugs and/or alcohol, driving while intoxicated, walking out into traffic, or cutting oneself
  • Other impulsive or aggressive behaviors
  • Preoccupation with death or violence
  • Experiencing a recent crisis such as a major loss, failure, or rejection
  • Unhealthy or unstable interpersonal relationships
  • Difficulty adjusting to one’s gender identity
  • Struggles with identity in general
  • Previous suicide attempts or a family history of suicide attempts

A friend or loved one may be in need of immediate help if he or she shows signs of:

  • Writing or talking about suicide or death
  • Giving away personally meaningful possessions to close others
  • Securing a means of hurting him/herself (such as a weapon or prescription drugs)
  • Saying statements such as:
    • "I just don’t want to live anymore.”
    • “I can’t take this much longer.”
    • “I’m going to end it all.”
    • “I wish I were dead.”
    • “My life has no meaning.”
    • “They’d be better off without me.”
    • “Soon you won’t have to worry about me.”
    • “Nobody would care if I were dead.”
    • “I can’t go on anymore.”
    • “My life isn’t worth living.”

If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend or loved one, know that there are things you can do to help minimize his or her risk of causing serious self-harm. Here are some tips that can help you through a crisis situation:

  • There is no “right” or “wrong” thing to say to your friend if you are speaking openly out of sincere love and concern. Show the person you care by sitting with him or her and offering an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.
  • Be non-judgmental, sensitive, patient, and accepting of anything your friend says to you. Show that you are willing to simply be there and listen. Show him or her that it is safe to talk to you. Your genuine concern for your friend’s safety and well-being will be come across naturally.
  • Don’t try to “make it all better” by offering quick and easy suggestions to solve your friend’s problems, because you run the risk of minimizing your friend’s feelings. It is important for your friend to candidly express how he or she thinks and feels about the problems he or she is facing. Instead of trying to rationalize with your friend, empathize with what they are going through without making judgments about how they feel.
  • Take every suicidal idea, threat, plan, or attempt very seriously. Do not hesitate to contact an authority (such as an RA) or professional (such as CPS staff) who is trained to help in emergency situations. Also, do not leave your friend alone until professional assistance has arrived.
  • Do not agree to keep your friend's suicidal thoughts a secret. It is true that seeking help for a friend can sometimes feel like a betrayal. You may even fear losing your friendship. Remember -- you run the risk of losing the friendship forever if you do not do something to help. While your friend may not appreciate your actions now, he or she will be grateful for them after the crisis has passed.
  • Coping with a friend’s threat of suicide can be extremely stressful and upsetting. You don’t have to go through it alone. Seek help for yourself as you come to terms with what has happened. Talk about your experience with a trustworthy parent, friend, pastor, or clinical professional. You can contact Fordham University’s Counseling and Psychological Services at (718) 817-3725 or (212) 636-6225 to schedule an appointment or a walk-in.
  • References




Responding to Concerns about Students

Sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death, after accidents, among college students.

We are fortunate here at Fordham to have a student body, staff, faculty, and administrators who are very aware of students who are struggling emotionally and highly effective at getting students the help they need.

This guide is intended to be used to review risk factors for suicide, how to approach students, as well as the resources that are available on campus. A guide can only identify a limited number of important items.  Please call Counseling and Psychological Services (see phone numbers below), if you want to talk directly with a counselor about this guide or about concerns for yourself or a friend. At Fordham, help is just a phone call away 24 hours every day. Between 9am and 5pm please call counseling and from 5pm to 9am please contact Security.  Information about Counseling is also available through our home page at where you will find free and anonymous screenings for depression, anxiety, alcohol use, eating disorders, etc, as well as other resources.

Risk Factors

The following can be associated with risk for suicide. In general, the more of these factors a student has experienced and the greater the severity, the higher the risk for suicide.

  • Has suicidal ideation, plan, and/or means
  • Has suffered a recent significant loss
  • Has exhibited dark, depressing, angry, or bizarre content in essays
  • Feels s/he has failed to live up to her/his own or others' expectations
  • Is exhibiting an increase in isolation or social withdrawal
  • Appears unable to laugh or have fun
  • Is exhibiting an increase in drug or alcohol use
  • Has poor class attendance or academic performance
  • Is struggling with concerns about her/his sexuality
  • Is giving away personal possessions
  • Has a history of prior suicide attempts
  • Is expressing feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • Is making comments about "not being around anymore" or death in general
  • Is being impulsive or violent
  • Appears to be in a fog much of the time
  • Has suffered a recent trauma

What To Do

If a student has communicated that he/she is at serious risk by expressing suicidal or homicidal thoughts or if a student appears to be seriously out of touch with reality, please contact the Dean of Students during business hours or the Security Supervisor 24 hours a day. You may also call the Dean of Students or Security if you believe that a student needs to be seen right away and he/she refuses. Personally walking a student over to one of these offices might help in the event that he/she is hesitant to ask for help. Regardless, please remain with any student you are seriously concerned about until he/she has been connected with the appropriate supports.

If a student is in emotional distress but the situation is not emergent, please contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS). You can ask to speak with a staff psychologist who, if not currently available, will get back to you in a timely fashion depending on the urgency of need. Our staff will help you think the situation through and come up with a plan of action that is tailored to the student's needs. In addition to seeking consultation about a student, you can also call CPS with general inquiries about mental health concerns that impact the student body.

If you would like more information about suicide risk factors among college-aged students, please click here: This website, Ulifeilne, provides valuable information and anonymous screenings related to suicide and depression among college students.

Please click on the guide below for more detailed information on responding to mental health emergencies:
Mental Health Brochure


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