The BLUES Project is a peer education volunteer program to help participants overcome depression and prevent suicide.
Consider this: Before you finish reading, someone in the United States will try to kill himself. One person takes his own life every 17 minutes. More than 30,000 people in the United States killed themselves last year, and nine times that number attempted suicide. Many of those who have attempted will try again. A large number will be successful on a subsequent attempt. Here's the irony—except for a very few, all of the people who commit suicide want desperately to live.
Suicidal thoughts occur when a feeling of hopelessness sets in, rendering notions that one is alone and that pressures and problems are more than one can bear and will never go away. It can be difficult for people who want to commit suicide to see that the pain does go away and the quality of one’s life can improve with time.
The Suicidal Person
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. Sometimes a suicidal individual may express the idea of being a burden, of being better off dead or of wanting to get away from it all. Suicidal persons usually want to communicate their feelings. Any opportunity to do so should be encouraged.
Suicidal persons are intensely ambivalent about killing themselves and typically respond to help. Suicidal states are time limited and most who commit suicide are not "crazy." High-risk indicators include feelings of hopelessness and futility; a significant loss or threat of loss; a previous attempt; history of alcohol or drug abuse; and feelings of alienation and isolation.
Warning Signs for Depression or Suicidal Behavior
Have you noticed significant changes in the individual's behavior patterns? Examples of changes can be seen in sleeping, eating and studying patterns; new or excessive use of alcohol or drugs; amount of time spent with others; or quick weight gain or loss.
Have you noticed significant changes in the person's emotions? Are they hyperactive, excited, withdrawn, depressive or experiencing mood swings? Is the individual abusing drugs or alcohol?
What is the quality of social relationships for this person? Does he or she lack close, supportive friends, spend little time with others, have non-supportive family ties and rarely participate in group activities?
Have there been any recent traumatic or stressful events in this individual's life? Examples of a trauma can include the death of a loved one or a change in close relationships like the break-up of a love affair or divorce.
Has the person hinted at suicide or the desire to die? Has the person talked about hopelessness? Eighty percent of suicide victims communicate their intent to someone else.
Has a close friend or family member of this individual committed suicide? Has the person attempted suicide before? Does this individual engage in physically dangerous activities? Does this person have a specific and detailed suicide plan and the means for implementation?
Be concerned if a person exhibits several of these warning signs.
What you can do to help
- Remain calm.
- Take the person seriously.
- Encourage frank and open discussion.
- Listen without moralizing or judging.
- Listen actively and acknowledge feelings.
- Acknowledge that a suicide threat or attempt is a plea for help.
- Minimize the situation or depth of feeling. For example, don't say, "Oh, it will be much better tomorrow."
- Be afraid to ask the person if they are so depressed or sad that they want to hurt themselves. For example, do say, "You seem so upset and discouraged that I'm wondering if you are considering suicide.”
- Overcommit yourself and, therefore, not able to deliver on what you promise.
- Ignore your limitations.
- Feel obliged to find simple solutions.
Refer the person to counseling if:
- The person has identifiable personal problems and is using one or more ineffective strategies.
- The person is exhibiting several of the distress warning signs.
- The person’s problem does not appear to be alleviated by your support.
- The problem has existed for an extended period of time, and the person's attempts to solve it have been unsuccessful.
When you refer the individual to counseling:
- Remind the person that counseling is confidential and that it can often help.
- Remind the person that recognizing a problem and reaching out for help is a strength, not a weakness.
- Call the referral agency yourself to get the name of a specific counselor for the person to call.
- Stay with the person to provide support when they make contact with the agency.
- Remember to take care of yourself. Helping someone who is suicidal is demanding, draining work. Seek support of friends or professional resources.
University Counseling Services
(818) 677-2366, option 1
Klotz Student Health Center
Public safety (university police)
7 p.m.-10 p.m.
Northridge Hospital Emergency Services
18300 Roscoe Blvd.
Northridge, CA 91328
Olive View Emergency Services
14445 Olive View Drive
Sylmar, CA 91342
Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center
24-Hour Crisis Hotline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National 24-Hour Hotline