Jun 19 2009

Suicide Awareness

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Life and college can be challenging.  Some of the reasons students can feel increased levels of stress are:

  • New academic and living environment
  • Trouble adjusting to increased academic and work load demands
  • Pressure to maintain high grades or bring up low grades
  • Changes in or problems with relationships:  romantic, family, friends, roommates
  • Financial pressures
  • Decreased social support system and feelings of isolation
  • Uncertainty related to major or career choice

When problems and concerns become overwhelming, students can potentially feel anxious, depressed or suicidal.  It is important to know how to respond when you or someone you know is experiencing this level of distress.

While you may not be able to solve these problems by yourself or for a friend or classmate, you can find a person who will help.   The first step in doing so is recognizing the warning signs that you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide.

Suicide Warning Signs

Warning signs are behaviors or statements made by someone who is at imminent risk for suicide or suicidal behaviors.  Individuals who are considering suicide often give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member.  All suicide threats, gestures, and attempts must be taken seriously.

  • Talking about or threatening to harm or kill him/herself
  • Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to guns, pills, or other means
  • Talking or writing about death or suicide
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities
  • Feeling trapped
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, school, and social activities
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, or experiencing sleep problems – too much or not enough
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life

Even if a person isn’t thinking of suicide, these warning signs can mean that he or she may have serious problems that need to be addressed.  If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide, we strongly encourage you to do one or more of the following:

  • Contact a Student Services counselor on campus or a mental health professional in your  Community

              For Harrisonburg and Rockingham County:  24 hr/Crisis Emergency:

              Harrisonburg/Rockingham Community Services Board:  540-434-1766

              For Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta, and Highland County:  24 hr/Crisis Emergency:

              Valley Community Services Board:  540-885-0866; 540-943-1590; 1-866-274-7475


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