Prevention

These warning signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event loss, or change.

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.

  • Talking about being a burden to others.

  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.

  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.

  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.

  • Having access to self-destructive means.

  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.

  • Sleeping too little or too much.

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Suicide is preventable.  With help comes hope!

There are actions you can take to help prevent suicide.

  • Take the warning signs seriously.  Do not ignore the signs in hopes they will go away.

  • Reach out.  Show your concern.  Don't worry about saying the wrong thing. Your genuine concern is what is important. 

  • Ask if the person is thinking about suicide. Be direct. Be persistent and sensitive to solicit an answer.

  • Convey hope to the person who is struggling.  Hope is the best defense against suicide.

  • Listen and accept the person's feelings calmly and without judgment. 

  • Do not act shocked or argue with the person.

  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy.

  • Know the resources at Clemson University and in our community. 

  • Offer to go with the person for help. 

  • Do not leave the person alone.  Find someone else who can help, such as family, friends, a religious leader, the Counseling Center (CAPS), a resident advisor or campus security.

TigersTogether offers advocacy training to help groups and individual members of the Clemson family to become Suicide Prevention advocates.  

Risk factors are often confused with warning signs of suicide. Risk factors are not factors that cause or predict a suicide attempt. Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that an individual will consider attempt or die by suicide.

Rist factors for Suicide

  • Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and certain personality disorders

  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders

  • Hopelessness

  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies

  • History of trauma or abuse

  • Major physical illnesses

  • Previous suicide attempt

  • Family history of suicide

  • Job or financial loss; academic stress

  • Loss of relationship

  • Easy access to lethal means

  • Local clusters of suicide

  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation

  • Stigma associated with asking for help

  • Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment

  • Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma

  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

Protective factors are characteristics that make it less likely that individuals will consider, attempt, or die by suicide.

Source: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, N.D.


Protective Factors for Suicide

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance use disorders

  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions

  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide

  • Strong connections to family and community support

  • Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships

  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and handling problems in a non-violent way

  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation

Suicide takes an enormous toll on families, friends, classmates, co-workers and communities, as well as on our military personnel and veterans. To understand why people die by suicide, and why so many others attempt to take their own lives, it is important to separate the myths from the facts.


Myth: Suicide can’t be prevented. If someone is set on taking their own life, there is nothing that can be done to stop them.

Fact: Suicide is preventable. The vast majority of people contemplating suicide don’t really want to die. They are seeking an end to intense mental and/or physical pain. Interventions can save lives.


Myth: People who take their own life are selfish, cowards, weak or are just looking for “attention.”

Fact: More than 90% of people who take their own life have at least one and often more than one treatable mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and/or alcohol and substance abuse. With better recognition and treatment many suicides can be prevented.


Myth: Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will put the idea in their head and cause them to act on it.

Fact: When you fear someone you know is in crisis or depressed, asking them if they are thinking about suicide can actually help. By giving a person an opportunity to open up and share their troubles you can help alleviate their pain and find solutions.


Myth: Barriers on bridges, safe firearm storage and other actions to reduce access to lethal methods of suicide don’t work. People will just find another way.

Fact: Limiting access to lethal methods of suicide is one of the best strategies for suicide prevention. Many suicides can be impulsive and triggered by an immediate crisis. Separating someone in crisis from a lethal method (e.g., a firearm) can give them something they desperately need: time. Time to change their mind, time to resolve the crisis, time for someone to intervene.


Myth: Someone making suicidal threats won’t really do it, they are just looking for attention.

Fact: Those who talk about suicide or express thoughts about wanting to die, are at risk for suicide and need your attention. Most people who die by suicide give some indication or warning. Take all threats of suicide seriously.


Myth: Talk therapy and/or medications don’t work.

Fact: Treatment can work. One of the best ways to prevent suicide is by getting treatment for mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar illness and/or substance abuse and learning ways to solve problems.

Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 9/6/2013.

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students.

  • According to the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), approximately 1100 college students complete suicide every year. This translates into an average of 3 college students completing suicide each day.

  • There are between 100 and 200 suicide attempts per completion (AAS, 2004)

  • National surveys of college students report 8-10% suicidal ideation rate each year.  On Clemson's campus, per National College Health Assessment (NCHA), about 5% have seriously considered suicide. This translates to about 1100 students on our campus who think about killing themselves every year.

  • Females are 3 to 5 times more likely to attempt suicide, but males are 4 to 5 times more likely to complete suicide.  But, among college students, females are only 1 to 2 times more likely to make an attempt.  The difference in completion rates is also lower.

  • Although suicide occurs across all age, economic, social, and ethnic boundaries, there are some groups that appear to have a higher risk for suicide.  See our Special Populations section for information.