A Guide to Suicide Prevention

This guide is intended to be used to review risk factors for suicide, how to approach students, as well as the resources that are available on campus. 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death, after accidents, among college students. 

We are fortunate here at Valdosta State University to have a student body, staff, faculty, and administrators who are very aware of students who are struggling and are effective at getting our students the help they need. 

Please call the VSU Counseling Center at (333-5940) or the Student Health Services (333-5886), if you wish to talk directly with someone about any of the following information. 

Risk Factors:

 The following may be associated with risk for suicide.  In general, the more of these factors a student has experienced and the greater the severity, the higher the risk for suicide.

  • Has suicidal ideation, plans and/or means

  • Experienced recent significant loss

  • Failure to live up to their own or others’ expectations

  • Increased isolation/social withdrawal

  • Inability to experience pleasure or have fun

  • Increased alcohol/other drug use

  • Poor class attendance/poor academic performance

  • Concerns about sexual orientation

  • Change in personality

  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits

  • Crying spells

  • Giving away possessions

  • Previous suicide attempts

  • Feelings of hopelessness/despair

  • Sees death as the only way to end their suffering

How to Approach a Student:

  • Express your concern to the student citing the risk factors you have observed.
  • Ask about any other risk factors.
  • Ask about suicidal thoughts directly, use the word suicide.  This does not increase the risk of suicide occurring, in fact students are often relieved to have someone to talk to.
  • Encourage the student to find solutions to their problems other than suicide.
  • Never agree to keep serious suicidal thoughts in confidence.  It is important that a student with serious suicidal thoughts meet with a counseling professional so the student can receive the support they need.
  • Be supportive and follow-up with the student.

What to do:

  • If the student has already made a suicide attempt, call University Police (259-5555) or 911 immediately.
  • If the student has expressed serious suicidal thoughts, they should be seen by a member of the Counseling Center staff or Student Health Services.  Call these offices and someone will make the appropriate arrangements for the student to be seen.  After 5:30 p.m., call University Police to find a Counselor-on-call.
  • If the student has only a few of the risk factors and denies being suicidal, it may still make sense for them to speak with a counselor.  They can call the Counseling Center to set up an appointment or you may call for them.
  • If you are not sure what to do, or how to proceed, please call the Counseling Center or Student Health Services and someone will assist you. 

Campus and Community Resources:

  • The Counseling Center (333-5940) - After hours call University Police (259-5555)
  • Student Health Services (333-5886)
  • University Police (259-5555)
  • South Georgia Regional Medical Center (259-4656)
  • Greenleaf Center (247-4357) or 24-hour Hot line: 1-800-247-2747
  • Behavioral Health Services of South Georgia (247-4440)
  • Georgia Crisis & Access Hot line (24-Hour) 1-800-715-4225
  • The Haven Rape Crisis Center/Battered Women’s Shelter (24-Hour) Crisis Line (244-4477) or 1-800-33-HAVEN