Montana Strategic Suicide Prevention Plan
Risk Factors for Suicide
Warning signs of suicide
When you fear someone may take their life
Health Promotion approaches to suicide prevention
Health Promotion works with other campus departments to promote mental well-being and prevent suicide utilizing public health approaches. Suicide is a problem for the entire campus and community, including both prevention and treatment.
College is an exciting yet often challenging transition for many young people. Many students are away from home for the first time, facing an abundance of additional freedom and responsibility. Problems sometimes go unnoticed when they are away from home, family and close friends. In addition, college sometimes leads to experimentation with drugs and alcohol, which can add additional stress and difficulties (with academic performance, relationships, depression, etc.)
Nationally, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined. Young women attempt suicide 4 to 8 times more often than young men, however males are 4 times more likely than females to die from suicide.
Sometimes students consider suicide because they are suffering from depression or another mental disorder. Mental illness can sometimes cause serious emotional pain, at times making it hard to ask for help or seek treatment. If you suspect someone you know is considering suicide, take them seriously and help them get the appropriate assistance.
The campus community includes both risk and protective factors that impact students. Risk factors include the possibility of increase social isolation (given the change in their social environment), the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide, increased pressures, including financial, academic and social obligations. MSU also offers valuable protection, via access to health and mental health care, access to caring adults and peers, and many who are able to recognize and respond to the signs of risk.
- A person dies every 17 minutes from suicide in the U.S.
- Montana's suicide rate is the highest in the nation
- In 2005, 25.6% of high school students in Montana reported they felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more and that they had stopped doing some of their usual activities
- Talking with a person in crisis about suicide will not increase the risks
- Most suicidal people express their intention before the attempt
- Anyone can prevent a suicide; in fact, professionals cannot do it alone
- No one really wants to die by suicide-they just want their pain to end
- Firearms (66%), hanging (13%) and drugs (10%) are the most common means of suicide in Montana.
Mental health & suicide among college students:
- An estimated 12 -13% of college students have depression¹
- Fewer than 50% of these students receive treatment or medication¹
- Approximately 2.5% of college undergraduates report having suicidal thoughts¹
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students (estimated 1088 per year).²
- Higher rates of completed suicide are found among males, juniors & seniors, female graduate students, and students "out of synch"³
- Suicide is typically associated with mental illness or alcohol/substance abuse.³
- Firearms and overdose are the most common methods.³
²National Mental Health Association & The Jed Foundation
³Silverman et al (1997); Gallagher (2007), Goldsmith et al (2002)
- Untreated or under-treated mental illness
- Substance abuse
- Previous attempts
- Impulsiveness or aggressiveness
- Isolation & lack of social support
- Financial or social loss
- Stigma associated with seeking care
- Access to lethal means
- Exposure to media normalizing or glamorizing suicide
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center 2008
- Expressed or communicated intention to hurt or kill him or herself, seeking access to firearms, pills or other means, talking or writing about death, dying or suicide (when these actions are out of the ordinary)
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities
- Feeling trapped
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
- Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time
- Dramatic mood changes
- Giving away possessions, writing a suicide note, organizing business and personal matters, or suddenly resigning from organizations and clubs
When you fear someone may take their life
- Most suicidal individuals give some warning of their intentions.
- The most effective way to prevent a friend or loved one from taking their life is to recognize when someone is at risk, take the warning signs seriously and know how to respond.
- Take It Seriously - 75% of all suicidal people give some type of warning of their intentions to a friend or family member. All suicide threats and attempts should be taken seriously.
- Ask what is troubling the person.
- If professional help seems necessary, encourage the person to seek help. The person you care about is more likely to follow this advice if they feel like you have listened to him or her.
- Ask if the person has a method or particular plan in mind for ending their life.
- Do not attempt to argue with anyone about suicide. Rather, let the person know you care and understand that he or she is not alone.
- Seek Professional Help - stay involved and continue to encourage the person to see a professional immediately. Help the person find a mental health professional and get to the help.
- In a crisis, take your friend or loved one to an emergency room or call the University police at 911 or 994-2121 Do not leave them alone until help is available.
- Remove any firearms, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
- Call MSU Counseling & Psychological Services 994-4531.
- If the above options are unavailable, call the local Help Center at 406-586-3333 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
- Suicidal people are sometimes hesitant to seek help and may run away or avoid this after an initial contact unless there are people encouraging them to continue.
- Offer ongoing support and express your concern for their well-being over the coming months.
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org
Talking with a Suicidal Person:
- Voice concern
- Ask if they have a plan
- Tell someone else
- Leave the person alone
- Be sworn to secrecy
- Act shocked
- Challenge or dare
- Argue or debate
The Jed Foundation: http://www.jedfoundation.org/
The nation's leading organization working to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students, The Jed Foundation is protecting the mental health of students across the country.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: http://www.sprc.org/
Information on government suicide prevention efforts, news, events and links to important prevention publications.
MSU Counseling & Psychological Services: 406-994-4531
Bozeman Help Center (Suicide Crisis Line): 406-586-3333
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.