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amplify the conversation

usc suicide prevention

Conversations can save lives. Most people just need someone to listen.

Each year in America almost 30,000 people commit suicide, and 70 percent tell someone or give off warning signs before taking their own life. Among the things you can do to help someone who is depressed and may be considering suicide, simply talking and listening are the most important. Do not take on the role of therapist. Often, people just need someone to listen. Although this might be difficult, there are some approaches that have worked for others. Severe depression is usually accompanied by a self-absorbed, uncommunicative, withdrawn state of mind. When you try to help, you may be met by your loved one's reluctance to discuss what he or she is feeling. At such times, it's important to acknowledge the reality of the pain and hopelessness he or she is experiencing. Resist the urge to function as a therapist.

Talking about suicide does not plant the idea in someone's head. Your willingness to explore the feelings, thoughts, and reactions associated with depression can provide valuable perspective and reassurance to your friend or loved one who may be depressed. Not everyone who thinks of suicide attempts it. For many, it's a passing thought that lessens over time. For a significant number of people, however, the hopelessness and exaggerated anxiety that are brought on by untreated or under-treated depression may create suicidal thoughts that they can't easily manage on their own. For this reason, take any mention of suicide seriously.

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Suicide Rate (per 100,000) 1993-2010 12.00 11.70 11.60

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Though depressed people are not necessarily suicidal, most suicidal people are depressed. Depression can sometimes be manifested in obvious sadness, but is often expressed as a loss of pleasure or withdrawal from the activities that used to be the most enjoyable. Try to get permission from your loved one to call their suicide or help them get treatment. You have his or her doctor if you feel there's a problem. to be strong. Realize that these reactions are Otherwise, it could be seen as butting in and may caused by the illness and should pass once the worsen the symptoms or cause added stress. Of person receives proper treatment. course, if you believe there is a serious risk of Always be supportive. People who have thought immediate self-harm, call his or her doctor. You about, or attempted, suicide will most likely have can work out any feelings of anger the person feelings of guilt and shame. Be supportive and has towards you later. assure them that their actions were caused by an Stress that the person's life is important to you illness that can be treated. Offer your continued and to others. Many people find it awkward to put support to help them recover. into words how another person's life is important Take care of yourself. It's not unusual for friends for their own well-being. Emphasize in specific and family to experience stress or symptoms of terms to your friend or loved one how his or her depression when trying to help someone who is suicide would devastate you and others. Share suicidal. You can only help by encouraging and personal stories or pictures to help remind your supporting people through their own treatment. loved one of the important events in life you've You cannot get better for them. Don't focus all of shared together. your energy on the one person. Ask friends and Be ready for anger. The individual may express family to join you in providing support and keep to anger or feel betrayed by an attempt to prevent your normal routine as much as possible.

13.8% 6.3% 89.2%

American students reported that they had seriously considered attempting suicide within the year before the survey. Students who reported that they had attempted suicide once or more during the same period.

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“Less than one half of adult suicide victims with serious mental illness receive treatment or counseling in the year before their death.� National Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

There is one suicide for every 25 attempts.

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Understanding Suicidal Thinking “People in the middle of a severe depression often think only of things that are dark and sad. Physicians refer to this as “selective memory”—only remembering the bad times or the disappointments in life.” Severe depression may cause symptoms such as the following: intense sadness hopelessness lethargy loss of appetite disruption of sleep decreased ability to perform usual tasks lost interest in once-pleasurable activities

Taken together, these symptoms may lead someone to consider suicide. However, with proper treatment, the majority of people do feel better and regain hope. Recovery is possible! During severe depression, the systems that regulate emotion become disturbed. People in the middle of a severe depression often think only of things that are dark and sad. Physicians refer to this as “selective memory”—only remembering the bad times or the disappointments in life. This type of thinking is a symptom of the illness; it does not define who the person is. And with proper treatment, the individual will start to remember the good times and develop a more positive outlook.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among ages 15 - 24 and has been on a steady incline within all age groups since 2000.

Suicide & Depression Risk Questionnaire Have you heard someone say:

Have you noticed the following signs of depression:

Life isn’t worth living

Depressed mood

My family would be better off without me

Change in sleeping patterns (too much/little)

Next time I’ll take enough pills to do the job right

Change in weight or appetite

Take my (prized collection, valuables)--I don’t need this stuff anymore

Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities

I won’t be around to deal with that

Fatigue or loss of energy

You’ll be sorry when I’m gone

Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach, or guilt

I won’t be in your way much longer

Thoughts of death, suicide, or wishes to be dead

Withdrawal from family and friends

I just can’t deal with everything--life’s too hard If depression seems possible, have you also noticed: Have you observed:

Extreme anxiety, agitation, or enraged behavior

Getting affairs in order (paying debts, changing will)

Excessive drug and/or alcohol use or abuse

Giving away articles of personal or monetary value

Neglect of physical health

Signs of planning a suicide

Feelings of hopelessness or desperation

What to Do 1. Acknowledge 70% of all people who commit suicide give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member. Be willing to listen. Even if professional help is needed, your loved one will be more willing to seek help if you have listened. 2. Care & voice your concern Take the initiative to ask what is troubling your friend, loved one, and gently attempt to overcome any reluctance on their part to talk about it. 3. Treatment Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to find resources. Bring him or her to a local emergency room or community mental health center. Your friend will be more likely to seek help if you accompany him or her. Contact his or her primary care physician or mental health provider.

Suicide is a fatal response to a treatable illness

What Not to Do Seek help. Don’t to try treat someone else’s depression on your own.

1. Don’t try to cheer the person up Telling them that things will get better and that they just need to “snap out of it” is not helpful. 2. Don’t assume that a situation will take care of itself Be ready to take action. 3. Don’t try to be their therapist Never swear yourself to secrecy or try to solve the problem on your own. Cases of suicide and extreme depression need professional treatment. 4. Don’t argue or debate moral issues Now is not the time to appeal to morals or reason. Moralizing only increases shame and guilt. 5. Don’t risk your own health or personal safety If you feel endangered, leave & call 911 immediately.


If you or someone you know has ongoing thoughts of death or suicide—or if a suicide attempt has been made—contact a doctor go to a hospital emergency room immediately or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 1. Involve other people Don't try to handle the crisis alone or jeopardize your own health or safety. Call 911 if necessary. Contact the individual's doctor, the police, a crisis intervention team or others who are trained to help. 2. Take the person seriously Stay calm, but don’t underact. 3. Be cautious Make sure guns, old medications and any potentially harmful items aren’t available. 4. Listen attentively Maintain eye contact. Use body language such as moving close to the person or holding his or her hand, if appropriate. 5. Ask direct questions Find out if the person has a specific plan for suicide. Try to determine what method of suicide he or she is considering. 6. Express concern Give concrete examples of what leads you to believe they’re close to suicide.

7. Acknowledge the person's feelings Be understanding— not judgmental or argumentative. Do not relieve the person of responsibility for his or her actions. 8. Offer reassurance Stress that suicide is a very permanent solution to a temporary problem. Remind the person that there is help and things will get better. 9. Don't promise confidentiality You may need to speak to the person's doctor in order to protect the person from himself or herself. 10. Be present If possible, don't leave the person alone until you're sure he or she is in the hands of competent professionals. If you have to leave, make sure another friend or family member can stay with the person until professional help is available.

Suicide Prevention Resouces If someone exhibits symptoms of severe depression but doesn’t seem to be in immediate danger, suggest that they call the USC Counseling & Human Development Center at (803) 777-5223 to make an appointment. It is best to have them do this in your presence, or to walk over to the Center with them. OR call 441, dial 0 and ask for suicide prevention, hospitals, crisis intervention, or local mental health centers.


Online Chatlines:





(for lgbqt youth)


Campus Blues: information & resources for students on social and emotional issues such as mental health, anxiety, loneliness, alcoholism, and other social and emotional issues. Go Ask Alice!: a web-based health question-and-answer service produced by Columbia University’s Health Education Program. Go Ask Alice! provides information to help young people make better decisions concerning their health and well-being. Go Ask Alice! answers questions about relationships, sexuality, emotional health, alcohol and other drugs, and other topics. Samaritans: an organization based in the U.K., offers 24-hour, confidential emotional support to people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those feelings that may lead to suicide. The Samaritans operate a free and confidential e-mail service, which generally responds to your e-mail within 24 hours. You can send an e-mail to or use the Samaritans website to send a confidential e-mail that cannot be traced back to your address. provides students with a non-threatening and supportive link to their college’s mental health center as well as important mental health information. Students can download information about various mental illnesses, ask questions, make appointments, and seek help anonymously via the Internet. Suicide Prevention Resource Center: provides prevention support, training, and materials to strengthen suicide prevention efforts. Among the resources found on its website is the SPRC Library Catalog, a searchable database containing a wealth of information on suicide and suicide prevention, including publications, peer-reviewed research studies, curricula, and web-based resources. Many of these items are available online. American Association of Suicidology American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

University of South Carolina Counseling and Human Development Center Appointments Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (803) 777-5223 Emergency Walk-in Hours 2 to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday Byrnes Building, 7th Floor 901 Sumter St. Columbia, SC 29208

Suicide Prevention Cards  

Suicide Prevention Cards

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