Skip to main content

Responding to Mental Health Emergencies

What you need to know

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 aware of students who are struggling emotionally and highly effective at getting students the help they need.

Risk Factors

Characteristics found to be associated with risk for suicide:

  • Prior suicide attempt(s)—the strongest predictor of suicide
  • Older students—students aged 25 and older are more likely to commit suicide than younger students
  • Female graduate students—recent data suggest that women in graduate school are at greatest risk
  • Family history of suicide (especially a parent)
  • Depression or other mood disorder
  • Social isolation
  • Alcohol and/or other drug use
  • Poor impulse control
  • History of physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse
  • Unrealistic parental expectations
  • Confusion/conflict about sexuality—LGBTQ students appear to be at higher risk for suicide

Precipitating Factors

  • Stressful events, situations or conditions may increase one’s likelihood of attempting suicide
  • Hopelessness due to untreated depression—belief that things can’t change or get better
  • Being fired or expelled from school
  • Recent unwanted move (e.g., moving to a new school or dorm room)
  • Loss of any major relationship (e.g., boyfriend, best friend, etc.)
  • Death of parent, spouse, child or best friend, especially if by suicide
  • Diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness
  • Sudden unexpected loss of freedom or fear of punishment (e.g., jail time or sanction from school)
  • Anticipated loss of financial security

Warning Signs

Changes in a person’s behaviors may indicate risk for suicide:

Direct Verbal Warning Signs

  • “I’ve decided to kill myself.”
  • “I wish I were dead.”
  • “I’m going to end it all.”
  • “If _______________, I’ll kill myself.” (e.g., I fail this course, she leaves me, etc.)

Less Direct Verbal Warning Signs

  • “I’m tired of life, I just can’t go on.”
  • “My family would be better off without me.”
  • “Who cares if I’m dead anyway?”

You can report a concern without a student learning your identity at any time—the important thing is to share any concerns you may have.