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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.

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

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.

Social Media Guidelines

Students often communicate distress in a variety of ways, sometimes in speech, sometimes in behavior, and sometimes through social media. If you notice a post or message on social media related to mental health issues, or have concerns about what you’re reading, call the Wellness Exchange (212-443-9999). We are here 24/7 and can assess the situation and make a plan for support.

Here are some things that might indicate a student is struggling:

  • stress
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • worry
  • guilt
  • anger
  • bizarre, paranoid, or nonsensical writings

Here are some things to look out for that would certainly warrant notifying Wellness Exchange:

  • any talk of suicide
  • references to death
  • wanting to give up, or not wanting to live or go on
  • hurting themselves or hurting others
  • feeling worthless
  • saying goodbye

Please send the text of the message to wellness.exchange@nyu.edu to alert a counselor to the concerns. Include any other information or concerns you may have.

For any concerns of an imminent or urgent nature, call the Wellness Exchange hotline (212-443-9999) 24/7. Crisis Response Counselors are available to assist in an emergency and can intervene right away to make sure the student is safe. To determine whether there is urgency, here are some clues:

  • specific plans or details related to harming themselves or others
  • any intention or threat to harm oneself or others
  • immediate time frame related to the mention of suicide, homicide, or self-injury
  • excessive or repeated posts of concerns related to mental health

Please also notify us if a student posts about rape or sexual assault or harassment. We can help the student access any needed services and resources on and off campus, and provide them with support.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a post is concerning or not, especially since many students use their social media accounts to be creative and express themselves. Please call or email the Wellness Exchange if you have any questions about a post, or if you want to bring something to our attention. We can review the posts, and the page, to evaluate what kind of intervention is needed.

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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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