Stress is a natural part of life. You can develop coping skills like talking with a friend or counselor, exercising or spending time on hobbies. These all help lower your stress. But depression is different. How do you know when a friend needs help?
A lot of times, I am a little nervous to talk to someone directly about their problems. What if I don’t say the right thing? What if it’s uncomfortable? Or, what if I make it worse? It’s hard to know what to say, especially if someone trusts me enough to share how they are feeling.
Though it is hard to be certain that someone is in trouble, I learned a lot of great tips from Dana Prisloe ’18 and Sean Moundas, assistant director of outreach and assessment at the UNH Counseling Center, during Fresh Check Day, sponsored by UNH Health Services. As representatives of Stop the Stigma, a student organization on campus, they were sharing information about the Nine out of Ten Campaign to help students learn how to help someone who may be contemplating suicide.
“A lot of people think someone might just be having a hard time,” said Dana. “There could be so much more going on. I learned that it’s always better to ask than just assume that someone is OK or just going through a small struggle. Be that friend that someone can trust to talk about their struggles. In the long run, it is always worth checking in on someone.”
That’s especially important because one in 10 college students contemplates suicide. That means nine out of 10 students have an opportunity to help each one who is struggling. Here is how you can help at UNH.
First, watch for these suicide warning signs:
- Sudden changes in academic performance
- Sudden changes in mood or behavior
- Seeming depressed or anxious
- Talking about suicide
- Eating too much or too little
- Unusual risk-taking or recklessness
- Isolating from friends and peers
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Giving away possessions
According to Sean, here’s how to approach someone that you are concerned may be contemplating suicide:
- Ask direct questions
- Stay by their side
- Call a professional
- Don’t keep secrets about suicide
It is important to remember that someone’s life may be at risk. If they are contemplating suicide, this is not the time to keep your friend’s secret. Get help from a professional. You could save their life.
This knowledge is incredibly important to spread. Some, like myself, need a reminder that there are people who need support daily. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, there are many resources available:
- Kognito Training
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
Below is a pledge from Nine out of Ten I suggest that everyone keep in mind. Though the words are not mine, I certainly take them to heart, because resolving to help save lives is incredibly important.
The Nine Out of Ten Pledge:
I pledge to:
- Educate myself on mental health and the warning signs of suicide
- Keep my eyes and ears open and reach out to those who may be exhibiting warning signs
- Show understanding and be supportive of anyone who may be struggling, to let them know they are not alone
- Be aware of the resources in my community and nationally that can provide information and help
- Encourage someone I’m concerned about to seek help and guide them to a resource that can provide assistance
- Find someone who is comfortable reaching out to someone I am concerned about if I don’t feel able to help
- Talk openly about mental illness and available treatment to help reduce the stigma around seeking help
Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students? I had no idea before I attended Fresh Check Day. I am so glad I made the decision to go because now I not only have a better understanding about mental health but I also have the information to help save lives. Speaking up and recognizing a serious issue can be difficult, but to me it is 100% worth it in the long run!