EUSA suicide workshop taught signs of depression; how one can help

Posted Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 7:56pm

When one thinks of college, stress comes to mind. With a college career comes new and sometimes difficult responsibilities.

Not only does a new student have the responsibility of waking up in the morning and making it to class, but they also experience new relationships, friendships and also being home sick.

All of these factors, after adding in grueling amounts of study time, can result in any student becoming overwhelmed or depressed. For some, this much responsibility can become too much to handle.

In a seminar sponsored by Eastern Utah Student Association on Sept. 21, all of these factors could possibly lead a college student to consider or act upon thoughts of suicide, said Skip Henrie, guest speaker.

He advised students of possible warning signs are for someone at risk and how to help. Students were given handouts with symptoms and how to catch it early on.

The first thing to look for in someone that seems to be in a suicidal state of mind are the indicators that their mind is elsewhere, Henrie said.

Academic indicators for someone who may be contemplating suicide are frequent absences from class, a decline in academic performance and changes in motivation and academic dedication, he said.

Another academic indicator may be when papers or essays written for classes have themes of hopelessness, despair, social isolation, helplessness and anger, Henrie said.

Physical and psychological changes can be observed as well, he said. Some of the easiest to identify are: a noticeable weight gain or loss, social withdrawal or isolation, lack of energy and/or anger and irritation.

When looking for signs, it may even be best to look not just at the individual, but also at the circumstances they may be facing in other aspects of their life.

Some things which could greatly affect a person’s well-being are: family issues, going through a rough break-up, parental losses, friction in friendships and parent-child conflicts.

If concerns for a particular student have risen, the best thing to do is talk to them, Henrie said. Many students having these troubles don’t know where to go or who to talk to. It could make a critical difference if the person is approached in a non-judgmental way by a friend or faculty member.

When approaching the person express concerns that you have about their recent actions. Do this in a discreet way by finding a private, comfortable place to talk, Henrie said.

The most important thing to remember is to be non-judgmental. To start the conversation, use a phrase such as, “You seem to be having a hard time lately,” he said. Don’t say anything criticizing about their actions.

Once the conversation is going, ask open-ended questions and stop to listen to what they have to say. Don’t make them feel like a solution must be given; the person may just be relieved to have someone listening.

Refer them to the resources available for this kind of care, Henrie said. Explain that the student support services are here to help anyone in need, whether their case is severe or not.

If they are willing, offer help in making an appointment with the mental health services, he said. The student being helped must be present when a call is made to set up an appointment, during which the time, location, and clinician’s name is given to the student. If they reject an offer for help, just try to leave the conversation in a way that the subject may be easily brought up again.

Suicide is a scary subject among colleges, but spotting the signs before-hand and offering up help can make a world of difference in their lives and yours.

Filed under: lifestyles