Concerns About Suicide

Suicidal thoughts are not uncommon among college students. College is a time of transition that is 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 attempt suicide, suicidal thoughts can be a sign of psychological distress, such as depression. Although it may feel like it will never end, depression and hopelessness are not permanent conditions. While the emotional pain of sadness and hopelessness is very real and may make suicide seem like the only option, it's important to recognize that there are always other coping strategies and solutions. There are people and resources within and outside of Fordham, including friends, family members, counselors, faculty members, and clergy, who can assist students with exploring and finding solutions to problems.

Warning Signs for Suicide

  • 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, helplessness, 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 interpersonal loss or trauma
  • Previous suicide attempt or a family history of an attempt
  • Verbalizations of helplessness, hopelessness or being a burden to others, such as: "I can't go on," "My family would be better off without me," "I wish I were dead," "Who cares if I'm not around anyway?"

Where to Go for Help and Support

If you are experiencing any of the warning signs above, it's important to reach out for support and guidance rather than trying to cope on your own. Recognizing when we need support, and seeking help, is a sign of strength, maturity, and self-awareness. The following on- and off-campus resources are available to all Fordham students:

On-Campus:

Counseling and Psychological Services
Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
Rose Hill - 718-817-3725; O'Hare Hall - Lower Level
Lincoln Center - 212-636-6225; McMahon Hall 211
Westchester - 718-817-3725

Free and confidential crisis-intervention and counseling 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.

Public Safety and Security
24 hours/day, 7 days/week
Rose Hill - 718-817-2222
Lincoln Center - 212-636-6076
Westchester - 914-367-3333

Office of the Dean of Students
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Rose Hill, Christopher Rodgers: 718-817-4755
Lincoln Center, Keith Eldredge: 212-636-6250
Residents can also contact any resident adviser or director.

Off-Campus:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24 hours): 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
LifeNet (24 hours) - 1-800-543-3638
The Samaritans (Crisis Intervention Hotline): 212-673-3000
ULifeLine

How to Help a Friend who has Thoughts of Suicide

  • It can be very challenging and difficult to hear a friend or loved one say that 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 to support a friend in crisis and to reduce their risk of suicide. Here are some pointers:
  • Most crisis situations that lead to suicidal thoughts are time-limited and are accompanied by symptoms of depression, such as distorted thinking, hopelessness, and acute emotional distress. A person experiencing acute pain and distress may view suicide as the only way to escape the pain. However, simply letting a suicidal friend know that help is available can increase their sense of hope and belief that other coping strategies are possible.
  • 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.
  • Be non-judgemental, 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.
  • Don't try to "make it all better" by offering quick and easy suggestions to solve your friend's problems since 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 judgements about how they feel.
  • Take every suicidal idea, threat, plan, or attempt very seriously.
  • 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.
  • 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 or contact CPS or an RA/RD for guidance. If you think that your friend is at imminent risk of harming him/herself or someone else, contact public safety and security immediately.

Suicides rarely occur without warning. Some of these warning signs include:

  • 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, helplessness, 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 interpersonal loss or trauma
  • Previous suicide attempt or a family history of an attempt
  • Verbalizations of helplessness, hopelessness or being a burden to others, such as: "I can't go on." "My family would be better off without me." "Who cares if I'm not around anyway?"

A friend or loved one may need immediate help if he or she shows exhibits the following:

  • 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)

Multicultural Brochures

Information For Faculty

Responding to Concerns about Students

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. At Fordham, we have a community of students, staff, faculty, and administrators who are committed to recognizing and supporting students who may be experiencing psychological distress or at risk for suicide.

The purpose of this guide is to provide information about risk factors for suicide and guidance on how to recognize and support a student who may be at suicidal risk.

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 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., please call counseling, and from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m., please contact security. Information about counseling is also available through our home page at fordham.edu/counseling, 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 interpersonal loss or trauma
  • 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 significant shifts in 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, helplessness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • Is making comments about "not being around anymore" or death in general
  • Is being impulsive or violent

What To Do

If you are concerned about a student's safety, please contact the following offices:

Public Safety and Security
24 hours/day, 7 days/week
Rose Hill - 718-817-2222
Lincoln Center - 212-636-6076
Westchester - 914-367-3333

Office of the Dean of Students
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Rose Hill - 718-817-4755
Lincoln Center - 212-636-6250
Westchester - 212-636-2650

Counseling and Psychological Services
Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
Rose Hill - 718-817-3725; O'Hare Hall - Lower Level
Lincoln Center - 212-636-6225; McMahon Hall 211
Westchester - 718-817-3725

Please remain with any student you are seriously concerned about until he/she has been connected with the appropriate supports.

Additional Training and Information

For more detailed information on responding to mental health emergencies and concerns, please refer to the Mental Health Brochure.

For additional training on recognizing and supporting students in psychological distress and/or at risk for suicide, please utilize Kognito.