Resource KIT

Working with Distressed Students

Resource KIT

How-to Student Depression and Suicide Risk

Know the warning signs

Inform student of your concern

Take action

Know the Warning Signs


According to the American Association of Suicidology, an individual at acute risk  for suicidal behavior will most often display some or many of the following signs:

            I           Ideation

            S          Substance abuse


            P          Purposelessness

            A         Anxiety

            T          Trapped

            H         Hopelessness


            W        Withdrawal

           A         Anger

            R         Recklessness

            M        Mood Change

Inform Student of Your Concern

Starting a conversation with a student of concern...

It is an understandable and appropriate response if you feel nervous or anxious about the prospect of speaking with a student about your concern for him/her. Knowing that you may be the first and critical contact offering assistance and help to the student in distress may be daunting.  However, your efforts greatly improve the student’s continuing safety and future well-being.

Speak with the student in a location where the conversation will be private, e.g., after class or during office hours.

Initial statements or inquiries that are open-ended may encourage the student to speak, such as:

I’ve worked (as a teacher or staff) in a campus setting for a number of years and have heard from students that the college experience can sometimes be difficult.  I’m wondering how you are doing?

Take Action

Be positive and offer the student hope that treatment can be helpful.

Offer resource and referral information to the student.

Develop a plan with the student to seek help.

Ask if s/he needs your assistance to initiate referral contact.