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Signs of a Distressed Student: Suicide on Campus

This is the fifth article in the ongoing series “Suicide on Campus”

Having a suicide on campus forever changes the atmosphere. Suddenly, that protective layer is gone, exposing the raw truth of what really happened. This semester, I am serving as an intern at Northeast Ohio Medical University while completing my senior year at the University of Mount Union. I have been given the opportunity to write a series on suicide prevention, sharing my experiences to help educate others.

After the suicide happened on Mount Union’s campus, all of us began to look back to see if we had missed any warning signs. Could we have noticed a Facebook post that hinted at problems? Every post and comments from friends seemed happy and upbeat; no one had guessed that anything was wrong.

Being a friend to a student in need may just save their life.  Knowing the signs of what to look for in distressed students can make a difference. Below are some warning signs from the Jed Foundation:

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activitiesseemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped, like there’s no way out
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Expressing no reason for living or no sense of purpose in life

For more information, please visit Jedfoundation.org to see a complete list as well as more resources to seek help.

If a friend or student is exhibiting any of these signs, please get them help immediately through The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or texting START to 741-741.  Contact a mental health professional, or if it is an emergency, call 911.

These warning signs may show up in social media. Beware of unusual posts or images that are unusual for this person. Pay attention to the language used.  It may be hard to tell the exact seriousness or emotion within the piece but if it seems out of character for the individual, act on it.

Even if the student won’t talk to you, taking that step to reach out to someone shows you care and may prevent them from doing something drastic. By being aware and being a friend, you may save someone’s life.
–Dana Goehring is a senior at the University of Mount Union and an intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications at Northeast Ohio Medical University.


Read additional pieces in the series:

  • A Student’s Perspective
  • New Funding, New Awareness
  • LoveIt
  • Mental Health Movements
  • Being a Friend in Crisis