Suicide Intervention

Even when problems seem overwhelming and too difficult to handle, there is always someone here to listen, offer support and help you through a crisis.

Thinking about suicide?

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, get help immediately — even if there’s reluctance to get help.

Immediate threats
On-Campus: Call University Police (716-645-2222)

Off-Campus: Call 911

You can also call Crisis Services of Erie County (716-834-3131)

Talk to a Counselor

As a UB student, you can meet with a trained professional at Counseling Services. These counselors are available at no cost to you, and all counseling is private and confidential as permitted by law. Contact Counseling Services to make an appointment.

Warning Signs of Suicide

If someone talks or writes about suicide, this should be taken very seriously. Suicidal thoughts are not necessarily dangerous, but if they include actual plans for suicidal behaviors, the severity of the danger increases dramatically. Do not assume that someone is talking about suicide just to get attention — this can be a potentially fatal mistake.

Talking about suicide — or attempting suicide — can be a student’s way of reaching out for help. If a student is thinking about suicide, they’ll often let other people know through their words (verbal warning signs) and actions (non-verbal warning signs). If you see any of these warning signs, get help.

Non-Verbal Warning Examples Verbal Warning Examples
  • Giving away personal or prized possessions
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Lack of interest in personal appearance
  • Lack of interest in friends
  • Lack of interest in social activities that were formerly of interest
  • Poor performance in school
  • Boredom, restlessness and loss of concentration
  • “Instructors, classmates, families and friends do not care”
  • “Life isn’t worthwhile”
  • “People are better off without me”
  • “Everything seems to be going wrong”
  • “I don't need this any more”

Many of these warning signs are also signs of depression. Depression does not necessarily mean that a person is contemplating suicide — but depressed people often think of suicide.

Help Someone Who is Thinking About Suicide

Students may consider suicide if they feel hopeless, trapped, out-of-control or depressed. But you may be able to help by following these steps:

  • Talk openly and freely and ask direct questions about the student’s intention
  • Listen to what is said and treat it seriously — do not add to a student’s guilt by debating, arguing or lecturing them about whether or not suicide is right or wrong
  • NEVER leave a student who is suicidal alone
  • Encourage the student to seek help
  • Get help immediately
Myths Facts
Asking a student if he or she is thinking about suicide will put the idea into his or her head

Discussing the problem openly shows the suicidal student that someone cares and wants to help

Once a student decides to commit suicide there is no way of stopping him or her

Most students who are suicidal do not want to die — they are making a “cry for help”

Suicide happens without warning

Most people who attempt or commit suicide have shown some warning sign or signs

Students who commit suicide are mentally ill

Students who are suicidal are not necessarily mentally ill

Understanding Suicide

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among college students. But it can be prevented. Because each person is unique, there is no single reason why a student commits suicide. However, there are several factors that may contribute to a student having suicidal thoughts.

  • Major life transitions: The loss of a loved one, breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, moving to a new town or school, failing an exam or course, or not getting into one’s choice of major can cause a college student to feel unloved, depressed, isolated and lonely.
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness: Some students feel that their problems are more than they can handle, and that no matter what they do, things don’t seem to be getting better — and no one seems to care or be able to help.
  • Negative feelings about oneself: A student who is suicidal experiences feelings of worthlessness and of being a failure; he or she may not be doing well in school, or may not be excelling in areas that they’re interested in.
  • Alcohol and substance abuse: Abusing alcohol and other drugs can cause a student to lose self-control and engage in impulsive suicidal behaviors.
  • Depression: Depression is a major contributing factor to suicidal thinking, and may result from several factors including the recent loss of a family member or friend, disappointments in romantic relationships, or failure to live up to one’s own expectations (or the expectations of others).
  • Wanting to end unbearable pain or overwhelming problems: Students may feel that suicide will put an end to their pain or problems.

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Training

Ask a question, save a life. QPR is an easy-to-learn process that helps you recognize the early warning signs of suicide, and get professional help for people who need it.

QPR training teaches you to follow three key steps:

  1. Question a person about suicidal thoughts
  2. Persuade them to get help
  3. Refer the person for help

Through your training, you will learn how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, including verbal, behavioral and situational clues. By detecting mental health issues early — and making sure that people get the help they need — you can help ensure that no student is left to struggle alone.

For Anyone Working with Students

This training is for anyone who works closely with students, including academic or residential advisors, friends, religious professionals, faculty, staff and parents.

What to Expect at Training

Presented by a certified QPR instructor, each 90-minute training session may include information about:

  • The problem of suicide nationally, in New York and at UB
  • Common myths and facts associated with suicide
  • Warning signs of suicide
  • Tips for asking someone questions about suicide
  • Methods for persuading suicidal individuals to get help
  • Ways of referring at risk people to local resources

Each participant typically receives a QPR booklet and card with information about suicide prevention, as well as information on treatment providers and support groups on campus and in the greater Buffalo community.

Upcoming Dates

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(for individuals only)

Request a Different Day and Time for Your Group

You can request this workshop for your class, student group or department on a date that is convenient for you. Please make sure you will have at least 10 people attending, and provide at least two weeks notice.

> Learn how to request a workshop

Need Help?

On-campus emergencies and crime prevention, 24/7

Bissell Hall, North Campus

Phone: (716) 645-2227; Emergencies: (716) 645-2222

Short-term on campus mental health support

University at Buffalo
120 Richmond Quadrangle, North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14261

Phone: (716) 645-2720; Fax: (716) 645-2175

After Hours Counseling — Call University Police

For after-hours emergencies that require counseling, call University Police at 716-645-2222 and ask for the counselor on call.

Additional Resources


This information is designed to provide self-help resources for mental health. This website is not psychotherapy treatment. If you have questions, need help or just want someone to talk with, please contact Counseling Services.