How to Save a Life

Amajla Tricic, News Editor

UC recently held a suicide prevention event in order for students and faculty to get a better understanding of what to do in a situation where someone may be contemplating suicide, how to address it and what to do if you feel like you need to reach out to someone.

Suicide has become the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second most common death among college students, according to the American College Health Association.

Alison Franklin, director of counseling, shared the common signs of a person who might be having suicidal thoughts.

“There is the classic depression sign, people losing interest in what they once enjoyed, not being able to get out of bed, missing class a lot, especially for someone who never misses classes,” she said. “There will be a decrease or increase in appetite and significant changes in mood, one way or another.”

She states that mood changes can not only affect people who are outgoing but those who also keep to themselves.

“Maybe someone who is outgoing or energized is now really withdrawn and not wanting to partake in things, or someone that is normally kind of introverted and now all of a sudden is the party animal,” Franklin said. “That is a drastic change.”

When it comes to those struggling with their mental health, Franklin explained how to approach someone in that situation. Do not be hesitant to ask and be forthcoming.

“Tell them it’s common when people are struggling or thinking about ending their lives, and ask them if it has ever crossed their mind,” she said. “It’s a myth to think by asking someone that you’re going to put that idea in their head. You can’t; if it’s there, it’s there.”

Franklin added to always be calm and try standing next to them, or if they are sitting, ask them to sit next to them. Try to make eye contact and let your friend know that you are worried about them. Always be on their level. The most important thing is to be there for them.

“Tell them, ‘I’m not really sure what to say or how to help you, what do you need from me right now?’” she said. “You don’t need to fix the problem, often times, especially guys, they want to fix it. It’s kind of how we operate in this world, we feel we have to. That is not what this is about. Sitting in silence or sitting next to someone on your phone or watching a movie is enough, you don’t have to say anything, it’s just knowing someone is there.”

Franklin added an area coordinator, Campus Safety and the Counseling Center can help with any needs. If a person feels uncomfortable talking to anyone on campus, resources like the Suicide Hotline are always available by call or text.  

Often times, the signs of a person contemplating suicide can be nonexistent due to the fact that they would prefer not anyone knowing what is happening in their lives. Franklin stated this is a good reason to always check up on family and friends, no matter how they are doing.

“If someone doesn’t want you to know what’s going on, they’re going to be really good at covering it up and it doesn’t mean you missed anything,” she said.

She emphasized the importance of having discussions about mental health and making sure no one is partaking in conversation that makes fun of or stigmatizes mental health and any treatments.

“Someone might interpret that as ‘I can’t talk to that person or I shouldn’t talk to anybody,’ so if you hear people making fun or putting it down, you should call them out,” Franklin said. “That opens the door for people to realize it is okay for them to ask for help.”

The Student Counseling Center is available after hours. Call campus safety and they will direct you to an on-call counselor.

A  hotline to reach is the Suicide Prevention Lifeline- (1-800-273-8255).

The local Mobile Crisis hotline- (315-732-6228)

Crisis Text Line- Text CONNECT to 741741