Please consider the following:

Show you care, connect on a feeling level, listen.

  • “I’m concerned about you and noticed you haven’t been sleeping, eating, going to class, etc.”
  • “How are you feeling?”
  • Reflect back their feelings and paraphrase: “What I hear you say is that you are in a great deal of pain and feel hopeless.”
  • “I’m glad you called.”
  • Listen with respect. Individuals in distress want understanding and care.

Ask about suicide directly.

  • “Sometimes when people feel sad, they have thoughts of hurting or killing themselves.  Have you had such thoughts?”
  • “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
  • “Have you considered suicide?”  “How would you go about it?”  “When would you do that?”
  • Remember, asking about suicide does NOT put the idea in people’s minds.

Get help. Explore options. Offer resources.

  • “What would help now?”  “Who can, who usually helps?”  “How can I help?”
  • Get assistance.  Avoid trying to be the only lifeline for this person. Seek out resources even if it means breaking a confidence.
  • “How would you feel about going to the Counseling Services?  Let’s call right now." or "I’ll walk over with you to see a counselor.” 
  • Call the Dean of Students Office at Ext. 4-2100 (or 978-934-2100) during regular business hours.
  • Call Ext. 44-911 or 978-934-2911 if this is an acute crisis. The EMTs and University Police will respond immediately.

What Not To Do

  • Do not promise to keep the person’s thoughts of suicide confidential.
  • Do not leave the person alone in cases of talk of potential suicidal thoughts or if the student is in crisis.
  • Do not offer simple solutions.