Recognizing and Responding to Signs of Distress in Peers
Listening, supporting, and encouraging your friends can really make a difference in their life. Sometimes you might hesitate to bring up a concern because you are afraid you will upset your friend, hurt your friendship, or not be helpful, but most of the time your friend will be grateful to know that someone cared enough to reach out and take a risk.
If you see these signs you should be thinking about reaching out or letting someone know:
Responding to Peers in Distress
Making a Referral to the Counseling Center: Suggestions for What You Can Say:
Asking about Suicide
Asking a friend whether they are thinking about suicide can feel uncomfortable and even frightening. You cannot increase someone’s risk of hurting themselves just by bringing up the topic. Research shows that acknowledging and talking about suicide might actually reduce suicidal thoughts. Many students feel very relieved when someone realizes they are hurting so much that they are having thoughts about not wanting to be alive. Even though someone might be thinking about suicide, it doesn’t mean they have a clear plan. The opportunity to have a conversation with a caring person can significantly reduce the risk that a student will actually harm themselves.
Signs a student might be considering suicide include:
Events associated with increased risk include:
Responding to Concerns about Suicide
If you have ANY concern that a student might be considering suicide, you should ask them directly about your concerns. Here are some ways you can ask:
-Do things ever get so bad that you have thoughts of wanting to die?
-Have you had any thoughts of suicide?
-Are you thinking about taking your own life?
Emergency Room at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg (610) 402-8000
2545 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem, PA 18017
Togetherall is a peer-to-peer mental health community that empowers students to anonymously seek and provide support. This online resource is moderated by mental health professionals and offers a safe space for students connect with others experiencing similar feelings 24/7, 365 days a year. Togetherall also offers journaling, goal-setting and self-assessment tools, in addition to a wide range of self-guided courses to help support student mental health and well-being.
Setting boundaries in relationships can help decrease feelings of burnout and prevent us from neglecting our own needs. Boundaries are a way of communicating our limits of time, attention, and emotions to others clearly and compassionately. It’s important to reflect on what your own boundaries may be when helping someone else.
Questions to consider:
Approaches to consider:
In addition to setting and maintaining boundaries in your relationships, it is vital to care for yourself when caring for others.
Kognito is an interactive role-play simulation for students that builds awareness, knowledge, and skills about mental health and suicide prevention, and prepares users to lead real-life conversations with fellow students in distress and connect them with support. In addition, the resource helps students to build their own self-care skills in a variety of domains. Click on the picture below to be directed to the online training.