suicide threats and interventions

Suicide Threats and Interventions

If a student threatens suicide or manifests other self-destructive behaviors, a faculty or staff membersí reaction and responsiveness could result in a positive crisis resolution. Successful intervention involves establishing a supportive relationship with the student. Intervention can be easy technically, but difficult emotionally. A University employee is not liable for a breach of confidence when action is taken on behalf of a student whose behavior may be harmful to himself, herself or others. (Note that although the following descriptions of what to do and what not to do reference suicide threats by students, the actions would be similar in responding to suicide threats by faculty or staff.)


WHAT TO DO IF A STUDENT MAKES A SUICIDAL STATEMENT:

∑ Show concern and stay calm.
∑ Listen with genuine interest.
∑ Ask questions in a calm, straightforward manner.
∑ Accept and encourage appropriate expression of grief or anger.
∑ Donít leave the student until you are sure they are safe.
∑ Instruct the student that you are taking them to see counselor (donít ask the student if they want to see the counselor, they are in need of direction at this point).
∑ Accompany the student to the Universityís Counseling Center during business hours. If after hours the counselors may be contacted at home, or the Canyon County Mental Health Crisis line may be called at 459-0092. 

WHAT TO ASK IF A STUDENT MAKES A SUICIDAL STATEMENT:

∑ Ask the student if they have a plan to commit suicide or if this is something they just think about sometimes.
∑ What kind of support system does the student have?
∑ If the student has a plan, how specific is it.
∑ If the student has talked with anyone else about suicide.
∑ If the student has a plan that would require a weapon, find out if the student is armed. If he or she is, then call Campus Security at 8911 and/or 911 immediately.

 

WHAT NOT TO DO IF A STUDENT MAKES A SUICIDAL STATEMENT:

∑ Donít refuse to talk about it.
∑ Donít lecture.
∑ Donít offer platitudes or simple answers.
∑ Donít analyze the personís motives or try to impose your own value system about suicide and death.
∑ Donít argue or try to reason.
∑ Donít try to challenge the student or use scare tactics.
∑ Donít be sworn to secrecy.
∑ Donít involve yourself in therapy.