Tips for Faculty

In the Classroom

Create opportunities for connections in your classroom and work to engage the withdrawn or socially isolated student.

Phrase feedback positively whenever possible.

During critiques, emphasize the purpose, process and benefit of them. Seek to normalize the experience by using examples, such as an invited upperclassman’s work. Understand that some students lack basic life skills and could be deficient in many areas.

Outside the Classroom

Identify career counseling as a tool for personal growth. Contact Counseling & Support Services at (423) 478-6217 for more information.

Encourage student involvement in events, campus clubs, and/or community activities. Contact Student Life Coordinator at (423) 614-8744

Inform students with disabilities about the self-identification process to utilize accommodations. Contact Disability Support Services at (423) 473-2427.

Engage with students at activities and on campus. Help them feel valued.

Consult with the BIT as needed. They are available for feedback, assistance, and support.

Talking to Students about Your Concerns

Be cognizant about the limits of your ability to help. You can help an individual access support by informing him/her of the college’s Counseling & Support Services department. Counselors in this office can provide assistance and make referrals to appropriate professionals in the community. If a person is receptive to seeing a counselor, provide him/her with the Counseling & Support Services phone number (423) 478-6217. Below are statements that can begin a conversation.

“Sounds like you are really struggling with _________. Many people find it helpful to have a confidential discussion with someone who is objective and outside of the situation.”

“I want to help you get the help you need and deserve.”

“Meeting with a counselor is confidential and will not go on your academic record.”

“These services are free; so take advantage of them.”

Responding to Suicidal Gestures

Suicide Warning Signs

There is no typical suicidal person. No age group, ethnicity, or background is immune. Fortunately, many troubled individuals display behaviors deliberately or inadvertently signal their suicidal intent. Recognizing the warning signs and learning what to do next may help save a life.

The following behavioral patterns may indicate possible risk for suicide and should be watched closely. If they appear numerous or severe, seek professional help at once. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) provides access to trained telephone counselors, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or the Crisis Text Line by texting TN to 741 741.

  • Talking about suicide, death, and/or no reason to live
  • Preoccupation with death and dying •
  • Withdrawal from friends and/or social activities
  • Experience of a recent severe loss (especially a relationship) or the threat of a significant loss
  • Experience or fear of a situation of humiliation of failure
  • Drastic changes in behavior
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, work, school, etc.
  • Preparation for death by making out a will (unexpectedly) and final arrangements
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Previous history of suicide attempts, as well as violence and/or hostility
  • Unnecessary risks; reckless and/or impulsive behavior
  • Loss of interest in personal appearance
  • Increased use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • General hopelessness
  • Recent experience humiliation or failure
  • Unwillingness to connect with potential helpers

Feelings, Thoughts, and Behaviors

Nearly everyone at some time in his or her life thinks about suicide. Most everyone decides to live because they come to realize that the crisis is temporary, but death in not. On the other hand, people in the midst of a crisis often perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. Frequently, they:

  • Can’t stop the pain
  • Can’t think clearly
  • Can’t make decisions
  • Can’t see any way out
  • Can’t sleep eat or work 13
  • Can’t get out of the depression
  • Can’t make the sadness go away
  • Can’t see the possibility of change
  • Can’t see themselves as worthwhile
  • Can’t get someone’s attention
  • Can’t seem to get control

What Do You Do?

  1. Be aware. Learn the warning signs listed above.
  2. Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  3. Ask if s/he is thinking about suicide.
  4. Be direct. Talk openly and freely about suicide.
  5. Be willing to listen. Allow for expressions of feelings and accept those feelings.
  6. Be non-judgmental. Avoid debating whether suicide is right or wrong, whether someone’s feelings are good or bad, or on the value of life.
  7. Avoid taunting the person or daring him/her to “do it”.
  8. Avoid giving advice by making decisions for someone else to tell them to behave differently.
  9. Avoid asking “why.” This only encourages defensiveness.
  10. Offer empathy, not sympathy.
  11. Avoid acting shocked. This creates distance.
  12. Don’t keep someone else’s suicidal thoughts (or your own) a secret. Get help, silence can be deadly.
  13. Offer hope that alternatives are available. Avoid offering easy reassurance; it only proves you don’t understand.
  14. Take action. Remove anything that the person could use to hurt themselves means. Get help from individuals or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

Who Can You Talk To?

  • A community mental health agency
  • A private therapist
  • A school counselor or psychologist
  • A family physician
  • A suicide prevention/crisis intervention center
  • A religious/spiritual leader If you or someone you know is severely depressed or actively suicidal, call the
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-237-TALK (8255). Trained counselors in your area are standing by to provide you with the help you need.