Counseling Center

Responding to Suicidal Talk

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Signs That a Student May Be Distressed or Thinking of Suicide:

  • Overt (or veiled) references to suicide - verbally or in writing
  • Statements of helplessness or hopelessness
  • Signs of persistent or prolonged unhappiness
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Pessimistic feelings about the future
  • Threats to harm self or others
  • Excessive absences or tardiness, especially if representing a change in functioning
  • Listlessness, lack of energy, or falling asleep in class
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene
  • Extreme mood changes or excessive, inappropriate displays of emotions
  • Poor academic performance and preparation, particularly if such behavior is a change from previous functioning

What to do if you suspect distress or suicidal ideation:

  • Stay calm, as this will help you respond more effectively, and also help to reduce the student’s anxiety or agitation. Remember that it is not unusual for people to think or talk about suicide.
  • If possible, provide a quiet, private place to talk with the student. Provide supportive and non judgmental listening.
  • If the student appears to be dangerous to self or others (or you are not sure), do not leave the student unattended. Reach out for professional help immediately (see numbers below).
  • Give the student information about counseling services at CSU and in the community and encourage the student to seek assistance. You can help a student make an appointment by calling or walking over to the Counseling Center with the student. Touch base with the student the next time you are in contact to find out if your suggestion was followed. You may need to repeat your suggestion several times before a student will go to see a professional.

Resources for Responding to Suicidal Talk or Other Mental Health Emergencies:

  • Phone consultation with a Counseling Center staff member is available at (216) 687 2277 weekdays between 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m. (except when the university is closed).
  • Use the county's FrontLine Service (Crisis Chat) at
  • After hours, you may contact Cuyahoga County’s Mental Health Crisis Line at 216-623-6888 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK
  • You can walk the student over to the Counseling Center for crisis consultation Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m. 
  • If the student is unusually aggressive or otherwise unmanageable, contact the Cleveland State Police Department for assistance at (216) 687-2020 or by dialing 911 and asking to be connected to CSU police.
  • Be prepared to provide as much information as possible about the student and the situation to the campus resource you contact.

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It's Okay To Ask For Help