What is suicide?

Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death among college-age students. Suicide is often a cry for help. Individuals may feel hopeless/helpless and think that suicide is the only way out of the feelings or events they are experiencing in their lives.

What to do if...

On Campus

  • Talk to a mental health professional (GVSU Counseling Center (616) 331-3266). After hours you may
    talk to your RA or call Public Safety at (616) 331-3255.
  • Talk to others: friends, family, doctor, clergy (campus ministry), RA, graduate assistants, professor, or
    counselor at (616) 331-3266.
  • Ask a relative or friend to stay with you. If there is no one available you can go to a healthcare facility
    such as a campus health center, hospital or urgent care center.
  • Avoid alcohol and other non-prescribed drugs.

Off Campus

  • CALL 911 : Call your local emergency response services or proceed to the nearest hospital emergency room.
  • Call a suicide hotline. See a list here


  • Listen to them and ask questions. Help them to discuss their feelings.
  • Let them know you're taking their feelings seriously and that you want to help.
  • Get help!!! Don't do this alone!
  • If you feel safe, stay with them until professional help is available.


  • Promise you won't tell anyone.
  • Try to shock or challenge.
  • Analyze their motives.
  • Argue or reason.


Losing someone to suicide is different than losing someone to other causes of death. When someone dies by suicide, those left behind often feel guilt, anger, and other feelings such as depression or confusion about why the person wanted to die.

Find a support group in your area that deals with losing someone who died by suicide.

Many factors can lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts. These include but are not limited to:

  • Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses (i.e. schizophrenia and personality disorders).
  • Alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Loss of a close friend or family member to suicide.
  • Loss of an important relationship.
  • Loss of employment or status.
  • Academic issues.
  • Financial problems.
  • Serious illness.
  • The majority of those who attempt suicide give warning signs.
  • They may talk about suicide and sound helpless and hopeless.
  • They may prepare for their death by making a will, giving away possessions, or by saying good-bye.
  • They may make sudden changes in their personality, eating, sleeping, or sexual habits.
  • They may be deeply depressed.
  • They may show a sudden lift in spirits - this is because they perceive their problems will soon end.
  • Anyone can die by suicide.
  • Women are more likely to attempt, but men are more likely to die by suicide.
  • Native Americans and Caucasians have higher death by suicide rates.

Visit the following websites regarding suicide among college-age students:

ULifeline  Jed Foundation

Myths/Facts about Suicide

Fact: If they are suicidal, they've already been thinking of it. If they haven't, you're not going to give them the idea. It can let them know that it is OK to talk to you about their thoughts regarding suicide because you were comfortable enough to ask them about it.

Fact: Most people have thoughts of suicide sometime in their lives. Most people who do attempt suicide or complete a suicide do not suffer from severe chronic mental illness. Rather, they are often confused and feel helpless about a situation.

Fact: Most suicidal situations are time-limited crises and are based on unclear thinking. Finding support and solutions to help them through this crisis until they can think clearly again is important.

Fact: Sometimes suicide is a way to get attention in order to get help. Just dismissing it may make things worse. Without proper help, they may make a more serious suicide attempt next time.