you or someone you know is thinking about attempting suicide, call RUPD at 713-348-6000 immediately.
is the act of
intentionally causing one’s own death. Contributing factors to someone’s
suicide often include external pressures or difficulties, mental disorders, depression,
and/or drug abuse. It’s devastating not only for the loss of the suicide
victim, but for the friends and family left behind.
Suicide is never
the answer. Suicide can be prevented, and if you are thinking about attempting suicide, then don’t hesitate to get help.
Signs and Symptoms
Suicide can be prevented. While some suicides occur without any outward warning, most people who are suicidal do give warnings. Prevent the suicide of loved ones by learning to recognize the signs of someone at risk, and taking those signs seriously.
Warning signs of suicide include:
- Observable signs of serious depression (unrelenting low mood, pessimism, hopelessness, and/or desperation)
- Anxiety (irritability, agitation, psychic pain , restlessness, and inner tension)
- Withdrawal (from family, friends, work, school, activities, hobbies)
- Sleep problems
- Change in appetite or weight
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Decreased concentration, indecisiveness or poorer memory
- Thinking, talking, or wishing about suicide
- Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
- Recent impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks
- Making a plan (giving away prized possessions, sudden or impulsive purchase of a firearm, obtaining other means of killing oneself such as poisons or medications)
- Unexpected rage or anger
Who's at Risk?
Suicide does not discriminate. But people most at risk tend to share certain characteristics. The main risk factors for suicide are:
- Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
- Unhealthy peer relationships
- An abusive relationship
- A prior suicide attempt
- Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
- Family history of suicide
- Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
- Violent mood swings, a sudden change in personality
- A sudden worsening school performance
- A fixation with death or violence
- Difficulty adjusting to gender identity
- Having guns or other firearms in the home
- Incarceration, being in prison or jail
- Being exposed to others' suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or media figures.
It is however, a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention.
Common Misconceptions(adapted from “Common Misconceptions about Suicide” by SAVE.org).
1) Myth: People who talk about suicide won't really do it.
Fact: Almost everyone who attempts or completes suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like "you'll be sorry when I'm dead," "I can't see any way out," - no matter how casually or jokingly said, may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
2) Myth: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.
Fact: Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They may be upset, or depressed, but extreme distress and emotional pain are signs of mental illness, not signs of psychosis.
3) Myth: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her.
Fact: Most suicidal people do not want to die; they want the pain to stop. Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, and most waver until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.
4) Myth: People who attempt suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.
Fact:More than half of suicide victims have sought medical help prior to their deaths. Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help within six months before their deaths and a majority had seen a medical professional within 1 month of their death.
5) Myth: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.
Fact:You don't give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true -- bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.
If the threat is immediate, call RUPD (713-348-6000)
If the threat is not immediate, contact the Counseling Center to make an appointment and talk to someone.
For more information and common concerns, check out the Counselor FAQ page.
Help a friend:
- Recognize and take warning signs seriously.
- Don’t try to minimize your friend’s problems or convince them otherwise –doing so may only worsen feelings of shame, guilt, or depression. It’s not your place to judge their situation if they’re asking for your help and support. Tell them that suicide is preventable, treatable, and encourage/direct them to the resources available to help them.
- Check in and follow up – check in regularly to make sure that they are doing okay, and that they are actively pursuing resources for suicide treatment. Support, listen, and help them.
- Don’t keep suicide plans a secret – if your friend confides in you that he/she is planning on attempting suicide, then it’s beyond your scope to deal with. Even if it risks your friendship, saving a life is more important. You need to tell someone who can help. Tell a trusted member of the college personnel team, such as a college master, RA, or a Counselor.
- Help them find help – if that means helping them make the first phone call or appointment, or walking with them to the counselor’s office.
- Check out the Counselor FAQ page for more information about what happens when your friend goes to see a counselor.
1) I’m having suicidal thoughts, but I don’t feel comfortable talking with a counselor. What should I do?
Experiencing suicidal thoughts is a very serious cause for concern, and is most effectively treated through professional help. If you fear that you are in immediate danger of attempting suicide, don’t hesitate to contact RUPD at 713-348-6000 immediately. If you’re not in immediate danger of attempting suicide, contact the Counseling Center to talk to someone. They can help you figure out where to go from here and provide effective treatment and resources for you. If you’re not comfortable talking with someone from the Counseling Center, start by talking with a trusted mentor or adult, like a member of the college personnel team, such as a college master or RA.
2) One of my friends is exhibiting some of the warning signs for suicide, but I don’t know how serious it is, and I don’t want to risk losing his/her trust and the potential to help her in the future if I’m wrong in telling someone. What should I do?
If your friend is exhibiting some of the signs and symptoms of being suicidal, then that’s cause for concern. If your friend’s in immediate danger of attempting suicide, don’t hesitate to call RUPD at 713-348-6000 immediately.
If your friend isn’t in immediate danger, then if you feel comfortable talking with them about your concerns, encourage them to get professional help. Check out our tips on how to appropriately approach the conversation at the "Get help for a friend" link.
If your friend refuses to seek professional help, or you don’t feel comfortable talking with them about it, consider calling the Counseling Center. They can give you advice and direct you to further resources based on your specific situation.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking with a counselor, start by talking with a trusted mentor or adult, such as a member of the college personnel team.
3) How do I tell my friends about my depression/suicidal struggles?
What and how you tell your friends is completely up to you. However, make sure you know the parameters of the information you choose to divulge before having the conversation, whether that concerns addressing your symptoms, struggles, and/or treatment, etc. Consider asking a close friend to check in with you regularly about how you’re doing.
4) I think one of my friends is suicidal, what should I do now?
If your friend is in immediate danger to themselves, don’t hesitate to contact RUPD immediately at x6000. If your friend isn’t in immediate danger, then, if you feel comfortable talking with them about your concerns, encourage them to get professional help. If you’re unsure of how to approach the conversation, contact the Counseling Center. A staff member can help you figure out what to do next based on your specific situation.
5) A friend of mine is recovering from a suicide attempt. What support and resources do I have to help my friend and myself through the healing process?
Don’t discount the impact that a friend’s suicide attempt may have on your own wellbeing. After experiencing something that traumatic, it may take a long time to heal. A few suggestions for approaching your healing process, as well as your friend’s:
- Realize that everyone’s healing process is different; there is no timeline for when everything reverts back to “normal.” This certainly goes for your friend, as well as for you and others close to the incident.
- Realize that many of the underlying causes for suicide are not necessarily caused just by life events, but also by such disorders as clinical depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
- Listen. Oftentimes, showing support to a friend who’s survived a suicide attempt means just letting them know that you care, and that you’re paying attention.
- Find suicide support groups in your community
- Check out more suggestions for ways to cope with grief
6) What should I do if I survived a suicide attempt?
Healing from surviving a suicide attempt takes a lot of time and support. If you’re not doing so already, you may need to seek professional help to make sure you’re getting effective treatment for any underlying causes and/or disorders. In the meantime, make sure you’re taking care of yourself (i.e., getting 8 hours of sleep a night, exercising regularly, maintaining healthy eating habits, etc.), and surrounding yourself with the support of close friends and trusted adults, such as members of your college personnel team, like your college masters and RAs.
7) What if I’m a suicide survivor?
Being a suicide survivor is often extremely traumatic for friends and family. You may find that people relate to you differently after the suicide, and may be reticent to talk about it with you. You may also struggle with unresolved issues left behind by the person who completed suicide. You should not have to deal with these issues alone. To ease the intense pain of the grieving process, talk to someone from the Counseling Center, who can provide therapy, treatment, and direct you to further resources. Also consider joining a suicide survivor support group, where you can listen and share stories with other suicide survivors. Keep in mind that coping with grief is a highly individual experience, and doesn’t have a timeline.
Clay, Rebecca. "Preventing Suicide on College Campuses." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. http://www.samhsa.gov/samhsaNewsletter/Volume_19_Number_2/PreventSuicideCollegesCampuses.aspx
Prevention.” National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml
Danger Signs.” “Common Misconceptions about Suicide.” Suicide Awareness Voice
and Education. http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=705EC833-E77D-2519-FA362EDFA62268C7
American Association of Suicidology http://www.suicidology.org/
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education http://www.save.org/