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Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors

Suicide is the act of deliberately ending one’s life. It is the second leading cause of death among college students. Suicide is almost always associated with a mental health concern, such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders and psychotic disorders. Individuals who may be suffering from a recent stressful event, such as the loss of a relationship or failed exams and classes, or financial troubles may be more likely to attempt suicide. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are treatable.

Common Signs of Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors

People who are suicidal often tell others about their thoughts or show warning signs to family and friends. Understanding warning signs and acting quickly is crucial in suicide prevention. Here are some possible signs of suicidal thinking and behaviors:

  • Talking, threatening or writing about death, dying and suicide
  • Looking for ways to kill themselves by seeking access to firearms, pills, other means
  • Expressing guilt (e.g., “I’m a terrible person”), helplessness, worthlessness (“Everyone would be better off without me”) or hopelessness (e.g., “What’s the point, things will never get better”)
  • Violent mood swings or sudden changes in personality
  • Sudden decrease in academic performance
  • Withdrawal from everyday life and support network
  • Asking about or actively seeking access to means to self-harm (e.g., weapons, pills, etc.)
  • Giving away personal possessions
  • Changes in drug or alcohol use
  • Changes in sleeping and eating
  • Changes in physical health and neglecting hygiene /grooming habits
  • Significant difficulty adjusting to a lost relationship
  • Erratic behavior that cannot be explained
  • Self-destructive behavior

What if I am Having Suicidal Thoughts?

  • Reach out to someone you feel you can trust (a parent, family member or friend)
    • It might help you feel less alone and overwhelmed if you talk about your feelings. Remember, now is not the time to worry about hurting their feelings – if it seems like a good friend or family member doesn’t “get it,” move on to someone else who can listen in a way that helps you and give you support in a way that is useful.
  • Remember feelings are temporary
    • Feelings come and go and are not permanent. Sometimes taking a nap, watching a show or going to bed when feeling particularly low can reset your mood, at least enough for the suicidal thoughts to dissipate. Breathing or grounding exercises can help too.
  • Make an appointment to speak to a therapist
    • Call/email/walk in to the Counseling Center and ask to be seen as soon as possible. If asked about the request for an urgent appointment, share that you are having thoughts of harming yourself. When you have thoughts of suicide, it is best not to put off talking about your struggles – this is a very vulnerable time for you and the sooner you find support and guidance, the better.
  • Connect to an academic advisor or a religious/faith counselor
    • Most faith and academic professionals have access to resources to get you help
  • Call a crisis hotline to talk with someone who has experience with these issues and can offer you support and connect you to resources
    • Text “START” to 741-741 or call 800.273.TALK (8255)
    • After hours Drexel Crisis Phone: 215.416.3337

Remember: With time and support, it can get better. Even if suicidal thoughts and impulses come and go (or even go away), they are an indication that there is a serious problem and seeking professional help is the best way to get better.

Hands holding flower

How Can I Help Someone Who is Suicidal?

  • Show interest and be supportive. If you are not sure what to say, listen quietly, offer comfort and do not feel like you have to have all the answers.
  • Be direct; ask them if they are considering suicide, if they have a plan and do they have everything they need to carry out the plan?
    • Asking them about suicidal thoughts will not give them the idea or cause them to want to kill themselves
    • It may be a relief to know they are not alone and that you care enough to bring it up
  • Listen nonjudgmentally- If can be scary and hard to hear someone is feeling suicidal, but if you listen and show genuine care you can make a difference.
  • Do not make a promise to keep their secret regarding suicidal plans.
  • Offer hope that suicidal thoughts are typically associated with a treatable mental health concern and offer to help get them help.
  • Encourage self-help – ask the person what has helped in the past and who can be in their support network.
  • If your friend or loved one has a plan to hurt themselves and/or intent to act on the plan, get help immediately.
    • Take action, remove means, and assist them in getting the help they need.
    • Consult with a professional – this could be someone in the Residence Hall or a counselor as needed.
    • If the person is actively suicidal with a plan or you think they are in danger, do not leave them alone and call 911 or a crisis line for immediate help.
    • If someone is agitated or violent, avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation and call 911 or DUPD at 215.895.2222.
    • Inform Residence Life and Housing staff if you live in a residence hall and they can get immediate help.
  • Looking after yourself – Often times it’s helpful to get emotional support while supporting others. This can be stressful, scary and confusing. It is best to discuss your concerns with a trusted advisor, counseling center professional, or parent.


In an emergency after hours, you can call the following numbers:

  • Drexel University Public Safety 215.895.2222
  • Emergency: Police 911 or go to the nearest emergency room
  • Drexel University Counseling Center (during business hours) 215.895.1415 or 201 Creese Student Center
  • Drexel University Counseling Center After-hours Crisis Phone 215.416.3337
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – or chat online at
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “start” to 741-741 or visit
  • Trevor Project – 24/7 LGBTQ+ lifeline 866-488-7386 or
  • The Veterans Crisis Line - 24/7 to veterans, all service members and their family and friends in times of need. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or text 838255 for support

Other Resources

The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor should it replace the consultation of a trained medical or mental health professional. Please note that outside links are not under our control, and we cannot guarantee the content contained on them.