Guidelines for Helping Students in Distress

Each person has their own style of approaching and responding to others. There is not just one correct procedure for dealing with a student who is distressed. Listed below are some suggestions for helping the student.

Talk to the student - Let the student know you are concerned and ask if they are feeling distressed.

Be accepting and non-judgmental - Help them determine what the problem might be without minimizing their feelings or judging them for feeling distressed.

Reinforce the student for confiding in you - Acknowledge your recognition that they are hurting.

Know your limits as a helper - If while talking with the distressed student you find yourself unable to give further advice or you sense that the person needs much more time then you can give or requires much deeper exploration of the problem area it is important that you indicate in a calm, gentle, direct manner that professional assistance may be needed to deal with the problem, and assist them in finding the help they need.

Guidelines for Helping a Student Who May Be Suicidal

If you are worried that a student may be considering suicide, it is alright to directly ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. Professionals assess suicide, in part, by asking:

a) Do they have a plan? - Exactly how will they do it? Do they have access to a means such as pills or a weapon?

b) Have they selected a time and place to carry out the plan?

c) Have they ever attempted suicide before? If yes, how and when.

The more specific and lethal the plan is and the greater the ability to carry out the plan, the higher the risk for a successful suicide. Do not be afraid to ask these questions. For people who are considering suicide these questions will not bring about new ideas. Most people who are suicidal are more than willing to discuss their plan.

Please remember that if you are uncomfortable or have any questions in dealing with this issue, the best course of action is to consult with the Counseling Center.