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A key component of a campus wide mental health promotion and suicide prevention plan is  education. Providing education on signs of distress and other potential risk factors empowers community members to take a proactive approach in mitigating harmful behaviors that could potentially disrupt students’ learning and development.

Below is a list of possible warning signs and potential risk factors for mental distress and suicide. The critical factor in identifying persons at risk is being aware of their usual behavior and assessing their behavior when they are demonstrating behavior that is "off" their usual.

Warning Signs

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene
  • Sleeping to little or too much
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Declining academic performance or absence from class

Risk Factors

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive behavior
  • Lack of social support and isolation
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Lack of healthcare, especially mental health or substance abuse treatment
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Mental health stigma
  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide, especially family members


Protective Factors

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance use disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of interventions
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means
  • Social connectedness
  • Skills in problem solving and conflict resolution
  • Cultural or community beliefs that discourage suicide


If you hear or see something ask or seek appropriate assistance. 
Communication is critical in connecting individuals with resources.

Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention