Office of Student Life

What To Do And Say

It’s always better to overreact than underreact. Your genuine interest and support are what matter most. When talking to a friend, remember to:

  • Express your concern.
  • Listen, offer support and understanding – don’t worry about saying something wrong.
  • Don’t judge, argue or act shocked by his or her plans.

Don’t ignore the warning signs.

Suicide is a leading cause of death for college students. You can help save a life by knowing and understanding the facts of suicide prevention.

  • Ask directly if your friend is thinking about suicide. Asking will not put the idea into his or her head.
  • If you can’t ask, find someone who can ask about suicide.
  • You may not be able to understand what your friend is going through, but you can help get him or her through it.
  • Be persistent, but gentle as you ask questions and get answers.
  • Offer to call for help if your friend is reluctant. Or offer to come to a first appointment. The first step is often the hardest.
  • Learn about the resources available so you can provide your friend with options.

Never leave your friend alone, if possible.

If there is a crisis, get another person to find your friend help. It could be other friends or family, a religious leader, a resident advisor, campus security or the OSU Counseling and Consultation Service.

Take care of yourself

Helping a friend who is struggling with a mental health problem can be very stressful. Recognize your own personal limits and be aware of your own needs to stay healthy.

You are a supportive friend. That does not make you a mental health care provider. It is not your responsibility to save someone. Your only responsibility is to care and get your friend to help.

If you need help, do not hesitate to get it!

If you see any of the warning signs, do not ignore them. They usually indicate more than everyday stress.

Peers reaching out to peers is one of the best strategies for suicide prevention. Students who are in distress are more likely to approach a friend or peer before talking to a professional.

As a student, you may be in a position where a friend may share his or her feeling with you more directly. And if you see a friend on social media share signs of distress or threatens suicide, take it seriously and follow up.

Request a REACH© training

REACH is a training program provided by OSU Suicide Prevention to help students, faculty and staff to directly teach how to help prevent suicide. You’ll learn the risks, warning signs and how to intervene. Request your REACH training now.