As a student, I want to help a friend or classmate
As a friend or classmate of someone experiencing suicidal thoughts, you are in a unique position to intervene. This person is likely more open with you than with others and may be coming to you for comfort and support. This guide is designed to give you confidence about how to provide that comfort and support, as well as how to identify signs of distress and how to assist and refer friends, classmates, or loved ones to counseling for additional help.
We offer individual, couples, and group therapy, as well as consultations for concerned others and psychoeducational workshops.
Our services are confidential and available at no charge for currently enrolled students.
We are also available to faculty and staff for consultation. Behavioral Health Services is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
We are located in the Administration Building, Suite 438. Appointments can be scheduled or consultations obtained by completing our forms or calling (210) 832-5656.
If your friend or classmate is at imminent risk, call 911. If you are on campus, you can call the UIW Police at (210) 829-6030. If you are off campus, you can San Antonio Police Department or Bexar County Crisis at (210) 223-7233. Additional hotlines and emergency service resources available here.
If you are worried about a friend or classmate, please feel free to call Behavioral Health Services to talk about possible courses of action and how to best help.
Just call (210) 832-5656 and ask to consult with a counselor. In the case of an urgent situation where you might want to walk a student over to our office, please call ahead, if possible, to ensure that someone will be there to meet with you when you arrive.
Some common signs of suicidality which warrant a referral to the Counseling Center include:
- Suicide threats or previous suicide attempts
- Statements revealing a desire to die
- Alcohol and drug abuse: sudden changes in uses.
- Sudden changes in behavior
- Persistent low mood, hopelessness, anxiety, withdrawal, desperation
- Neglect of school work, personal grooming or other routine tasks.
- Changes in physical health such as changes in sleep habits, appetite, weight, or energy level.
- Personal crises and major losses or rejections.
- Loss of relationship
- Making final arrangements
- Giving away prized possessions
- Purchasing a gun or stockpiling pills
- Perceived or actual lack of support
- Ominous, dark, or vague social media posts or sudden withdrawal from social media use.
- Academic concerns that may be experienced as failure
- Lacking coping skills and feelings of Hopelessness
- Identity concerns
- If possible, arrange a private time to talk with your friend or classmate.
- Discuss your observations that led you to become concerned. Avoid being judgmental or making assumptions about the cause of their apparent distress.
- Keep the tone of your talk supportive, reassuring, and empathic. The success of this conversation has less to do with what you say and more to do with how you say it.
- Let your friend or classmate respond to your concerns – listen!
- Validate their concerns; remember, saying “That sounds really hard” is often a better strategy in this situation than giving concrete advice or trying to talk the person out of how they are feeling.
- Re-emphasize your support and care, regardless of how they respond.
- You may want to mention that you have seen other people struggle with similar issues, and that it makes sense that the stressors they are experiencing seem overwhelming.
- If appropriate, mention that there are additional people on campus who can help and offer to assist the student in making these contacts, including Behavioral Health Services (available at (210) 832-5656). You can also provide information for the 24-Hour Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255). Additional crisis resources available here.
- Mention that receiving services with Behavioral Health is strictly confidential as protected by law.
- Though your friend or classmate may reject your offer of support or referral, remain supportive and remember that you need not be alone in your efforts to help. Feel free to consult with a Behavioral Health staff before and/or after you speak with the student, if needed.
You can also reach out to the UIW CARE team with any concerns about the student(s) or file an incident report, so the student(s) receive(s) additional support.