Responding to Emotionally Distressed Students Guide > Depression or Suicidal Concerns
Student Counseling Services provides counseling for all Saint Louis University full-time, part-time and graduate students. A counselor is on call 24-hours a day and can be reached at (314) 977-2323 for a mental health emergency.
Depression is a part of a natural emotional and physical response to life's ups and downs. There are challenges in so many areas of life for college students that many, if not most, people will experience periods of depression during their time in school. Due to the opportunities that faculty and staff have to observe and interact with students, they are often the first to recognize that a student's depression is putting the student in distress. When depressive symptoms interrupt a student's ability to function in schoolwork or social environments, you may notice:
• Dependency (a student who makes excessive requests for your time)
• Markedly diminished performance
• Lack of energy/motivation
• Infrequent class attendance
• Increased anxiety/test anxiety/performance anxiety
• Deterioration in personal hygiene
• Significant weight loss or gain
• Alcohol or drug use
*Early intervention increases the chances of the student's return to optimal performance.
- DO -
• Let the student know you've noticed that she/he appears to be feeling down and you would like to help
• Reach out and encourage the student to discuss how she/he is feeling
- DON'T -
• Minimize the student's feelings, e.g., "Don't worry. Everything will be better tomorrow."
• Bombard the student with "fix it" solutions or advice
• Chastise the student for poor or incomplete work
• Be afraid to ask whether the student is suicidal if you think this might be the case
Student Health and Counseling - (314) 977-2323
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. All suicidal comments should be taken seriously. High risk indicators include: a pattern of feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and futility; a severe loss or threat of loss; detailed suicide plan; a history of a previous attempt; history of alcohol or drug abuse; feeling of alienation and isolation; a preoccupation with death; and life circumstances which present the threat of significant loss, or an actual loss.
- DO -
• Take the student seriously--80% of suicides give warning of their intent
• Be direct. Ask if a student is suicidal, if she/he has a plan, and if she/he has the means to carry out the plan. Exploring this with a student can decrease their impulse to carry out the plan
• If the situation is dangerous to you or the student, call the police immediately
• Take care of yourself. Suicide intervention is demanding and draining work
- DON'T -
• Minimize the situation
• Be afraid of planting the idea of suicide in an already depressed mind by inquiring about it. Most often people are relieved that someone is concerned, or has guessed how hard things are.
• Ignore your limitations
• Promise to keep it secret
Student Health and Counseling on-call counselor - (314) 977-2323