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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

The Depressed or Suicidal Student

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/counseling/faculty/depressed.html

Because we all experience some of the symptoms of depression at one time or another, we all have some personal knowledge of what the depressed student is going through. A depressed student is likely to be experiencing some of the following symptoms:

  • Sadness, tearfulness
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of interest in schoolwork or usual activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy
  • Physical Symptoms
    • Changes in appetite
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Low energy level
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Guilt or anger

Facts about Suicide

It is important to take all suicidal comments seriously and to make appropriate referrals.

  • College students have lower suicide rates than non-college people of the same age
  • More men commit suicide; more women attempt
  • Talking about suicide will not plant the idea in a person's mind
  • Feeling isolated increases the likelihood of suicide
  • The more developed the suicide plan, the greater likelihood for suicide

Helpful Responses

  • Reach out and encourage the student to talk about his/her feelings
  • Tell the student about your concern for his/her well-being
  • Talk about suicide if that is on the student's mind
  • Refer if suicidal (Counseling Center 389-1455, Security 389-2111 or 911)
  • Frequent contact, even for a few minutes, begins to relieve feelings of isolation (encourage the student to be in contact with family, friends, counselor)

Responses to Avoid

  • Saying "don't worry" or "everything will be better tomorrow." This may only make the student feel worse.
  • Becoming overwhelmed by the student's problems. This may only provide evidence that s/he should feel helpless.
  • Assuming too much responsibility for the student and his/her problems
  • Trying to ignore or minimize his/her feelings