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Suicidal thinking


You may be consulting this page because you are considering suicide or because you are worrying about a friend who seems to be considering suicide.

Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing advises most strongly that anyone contemplating suicide seek assistance at the earliest possible time. We would never want to minimise the problems that lead individuals to contemplate ending their lives - often they are problems of great severity which carry with them deep feelings of shame, loneliness and hopelessness.

However, most research and anecdotal experience of carers suggest that the despairing thought which make a person feel that the only way to resolve the problem is by suicide is normally a misguided one. This Service has worked with many students while they are actively contemplating suicide or who have done so in the past - almost invariably when the crisis is past they express relief that they have not acted on their suicidal intentions -  and if you are such a student please do contact us| for support. If you are in crisis now REMEMBER the link at the top of this page.

The problems that lead to suicidal thinking are too complex and varied to address here - although some pointers may be found on our other pages. However what we can do is give clear guidance to immediate sources of help.

Visit the Befrienders| website for further information and support.

In addition to these services that maintain specific emergency cover, Chaplains, Student Services Staff, Student Union Welfare Officers will all be willing to support a student in times of difficulty or distress.

Helping a friend

If a friend of yours is in distress and maybe even talking about harming themselves, we would suggest the following steps, sometimes summed up in the acronym COPE.

  • Be Caring - never ignore or take lightly a suggestion of suicide - research shows most people who attempt suicide normally tell someone else of their intentions first. Ask more and do not be afraid that talking about the threat will put ideas into the person's mind - it is more likely that they will appreciate being taken seriously.
  • Be Optimistic - as explained above, most human problems can be solved with time, care and expert help no matter how hopeless they seem. You do not have to give up hope just because your friend has temporarily lost theirs. However, do not let your optimism lead you to dismiss or make light of the person's concerns.
  • Be Practical - do not leave a person expressing serious self-harming intent alone, especially if the means of self-harm are at hand. Involve others - using the emergency services if necessary. Be particularly vigilant if someone is drunk or under the influence of drugs, if they have made a suicide attempt in the past or if they have a clearly formulated plan. Do not however get drawn into making unrealistic long-term promises of ongoing support that you are unlikely to be able to keep.
  • Seek an Expert - if the person threatening suicide refuses to involve any of the sources of help listed above once the immediate crisis is passed, consider contacting them yourself in order to plan what steps can be taken to get support for your friend.  
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