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Helping Someone in Trouble

In a large, fragmented community like NYU, it's vital to reach out to others, particularly those who are isolated or engaged in self-destructive activities. Campus mental health is the responsibility of all of us.

Here are some common signs that someone may be having emotional troubles or even feeling suicidal:

  • References to death or suicide in conversation, jokes, or writings
  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Withdrawal from friends and social activities
  • Loss of interest in schoolwork, work, and other activities
  • Abrupt changes in behavior, mood or appearance
  • Pursuit of dangerous activities
  • References to previous suicide attempts
  • Drug or alcohol problems
  • Signs of depression: crying, hopelessness, sleeping or eating problems, low energy, low self-esteem, excessive guilt

Here are ways to be helpful when someone shows some of these signs:

  • Take the signs seriously.
  • Ask to talk to the person.
  • Say you are concerned. Point out the signs you've noticed.
  • Be willing to listen. Don't judge or give lots of advice or try to cheer up the person.
  • If it's unclear that the person is suicidal, ask, "Have things gotten so bad that you're actually thinking of hurting yourself?" Asking about suicide is a sign of caring.
  • Don't be sworn to secrecy. Say that you need to talk with someone to make sure they are safe.
  • If the person is acutely suicidal, they may do something right away. Do not leave them alone.
  • Have someone else promptly call 911 and then call NYU Public Safety (212-998-2222).
  • If the situation is not an immediate emergency, refer the person to Counseling and Wellness Services (212-998-4780) or the Wellness Exchange (212-443-9999). Tell the person you will make the call and explain the situation.
  • If you have any questions about someone in trouble, please call Counseling and Wellness Services at 212-998-4780 or the Wellness Exchange at 212-443-9999.
  • For after hours emergencies, call the Wellness Exchange at 212-443-9999 or NYU Public Safety at 212-998-2222.

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The Wellness Exchange Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 212-443-9999. If you just need to talk, or call about a friend, the Wellness Exchange is there to listen.

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