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Grief and the College Student: Latest research findings on bereaved college students (ADEC, 2008)
1/3 of college students experience the death of someone close to them. One recent study suggest that 30% of college students were bereaved in the past 12 months, and 39% in the past 24 months (Walker, Balk, 2008).
In another study, Noppe found that 47% of college students had experienced a death in the past 24 months and that almost 20% of them had experienced multiple losses in that time. Student academic performance and engagement was affected by their loss, especially when the deceased was someone close to the student. Most students did not see their college as a resource in helping them with their grief and only 19% of the bereaved students talked to their professors about their loss.
Balk, 2008 found the strong need for colleges to reach out to a bereaved student in and to determine what bereaved students need and want. These needs include:
Servaty-Seib, 2008 found that closeness to the deceased also greatly affected the student's ability to study and engage with others.
Colleges need: to train non bereaved students, provide structured interventions for bereaved students at risk for complicated grief, and to encourage colleges to create leave policies for their students.
Adapted from the July 2008 ADEC Annual Conference (Association of Death Education and Counseling)
Normal Signs of Grief:
Somatic or bodily distress
Preoccupation with the image of the deceased
Guilt relating to the deceased or circumstances around the death
The inability to function as one had before the loss
Sadness, Anger, Shock, Denial, Numbness, Guilt and Self Re-proach, Anxiety, Loneliness, Fatigue, Helplessness, Yearning,
Hollowness in the stomach
Tightness in the chest
Tightness in the throat
Oversensitivity to noise
A sense of personalization "I walk down the campus and nothing seems real, including me"
Breathlessness, feeling short of breath
Weakness in the muscles
Lack of energy
Sense of Presence
Hallucinations ( often transient illusory experiences often occurring within a few weeks following the loss, and generally do not point to complicated grief). Many find these experiences comforting, although they are disconcerting to others. One wonders with all of the recent interest in spirituality, whether these are really hallucinations or possibly some other kind of metaphysical phenomena. (Worden, 2002).
Social Withdrawal: People tend to want to withdraw after a loss. This is usually short lived. Many students avoid those who try to "cheer them up" or adults who push them to "get over it".
Dreams of the Deceased: very common to dream of the dead person, both normal kinds of dreams and distressing dreams or nightmares.
Avoiding Reminders of the Deceased: Some people will want to avoid places (dorm room, dorm, classrooms, dining hall table) as they may trigger painful feelings of grief.
Searching and Calling Out:
Restless Over activity
Visiting Places or Carrying Objects that remind you of the deceased
Treasuring Objects that belonged to the deceased
National Students of Ailing Mothers and Fathers Support Network (International)
Network of university students helping each other cope with the serious illness or death of a loved one. Campus-based mutual support groups, online newsletter, online chats, and service projects. Web site provides information, group development guidelines and a listing of universities currently interested in group development. Write: National Students of AMF, 514 Daniels St. Suite 356, Raleigh NJ 27605. Website: http://www.studentsofamf.org
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This information is from Suicide Prevention Resource Center: www.SPRC.org
The Role of College Students in Preventing Suicide
College represents a huge transition for most young people. Many are living away from home for the first time. Even students who commute to school achieve a new level of independence and freedom in college. However, college also eliminates some of the safety nets available to young people living at home. It is easier for a young person's problems to go unnoticed when he or she is away at college and not under the eyes of parents, old friends, and high school teachers. College also provides a new opportunity for young people to experiment with drugs or alcohol.
Why would someone want to die? Sometimes people want to die because they are suffering from a chemical imbalance that causes depression or another mental disorder-and college students may neglect to take medication prescribed for depression, hyperactivity, or other problems. They may also have a mental illness that causes them so much emotional pain and anguish, it prevents them from rationally considering other solutions to their problems. Incoming students may have particular difficulty adjusting to a new academic environment where the competition is more intense and the stakes are higher.
While you may not be able to solve these problems for a friend or classmate, you may be able to help the person find someone who can help. And the first step in doing so is recognizing the warning signs that someone may be at risk of suicide.
Recognizing the Warning Signs
College students have their own culture and language. You may know your college friends better than their own parents do. And you may be able to tell that something is wrong with one of your classmates when the professors and faculty advisors can't. You can use your insights to help your friends and classmates find help when they are having problems.
While there is no foolproof method of determining that someone is thinking of hurting him- or herself, the following signs might indicate that a young person is considering suicide:
Some warning signs of suicide demand immediate action:
Again, there is no foolproof way of knowing for sure that a teen is thinking of hurting him- or herself. But even if the person isn't thinking of suicide, these warning signs can mean that he or she other serious problems. By taking action, you can help that person become happier and healthier.
Helping Your Peers
If you think that any of your friends or classmates may be thinking of killing themselves, there are two important things you can do: Talk to them, and express your concern to a responsible adult.
Having someone to talk to can make a big difference. College students will often share secrets and feelings with their peers that they will not share with older adults. However, you may need to be persistent before they are willing to talk. Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. Talking about suicide or suicidal thoughts will not push someone to kill themselves. It is also not true that people who talk about killing themselves will not actually try it. Take any expressed intention of suicide very seriously.
You should be especially concerned if people tell you that they have made a detailed suicide plan or obtained a means of hurting themselves. If they announce that they are thinking of taking an overdose of prescription medication or jumping from a particular bridge, stay with them until they are willing to go with you and talk to a responsible adult-or until a responsible adult can be found who will come to you.
Don't pretend you have all the answers. The most important thing you can do may be to help them find help. Never promise to keep someone's intention to kill him- or herself a secret.
If you have talked with a friend or classmate and think that person is in danger, yet the person refuses to get help, you need to talk to a responsible adult who can intervene. You should also find a responsible adult if your friend or classmate refuses to discuss the issue with you, or if you think that you don't know the person well enough to initiate a personal conversation.
Find someone who is concerned with and understands young people and can help. This might be a member of your friend's family, or it could be a residence assistant, a professor, an administrator, a member of the clergy, or someone who works in campus mental health services or the health clinic. If this adult doesn't take you or your friend's problem seriously or doesn't know what to do, talk to someone else. Most college campuses have a mental health or emergency support network that will respond to your concern.
Don't be afraid of being wrong. It is difficult for even experts to understand who is at serious risk of suicide and who is not. Many of the warning signs for suicide could also indicate problems with drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, depression, or another mental illness. Young people with these problems need help-and you can help.
Taking Care of Yourself
If you are thinking of hurting yourself, tell someone who can help. If you cannot talk to your parents, find someone else: a relative, a friend, or someone at your campus mental health services or health clinic. Or, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).
www.sptsnj.org Society for the prevention of Teen Suicide
There is a lot of information on suicide prevention
Contact We Care: Crisis Hotline: 908-232-2880
Important Info on Suicide(thanks to a student named Bethany from Cleary Mountain High School who suggested that I add this info to my site, that she found in doing work for her health class. Thanks Bethany!) The direct link is: http://www.lifeinsurancequote.net/reminding-loved-ones-that-life-is-precious-suicide-prevention-resources/
Reminding Loved Ones That Life is Precious: Suicide Prevention Resources
Suicide is a very serious issue that can also have serious effects on individuals, their families, and the community. While the causes of suicide are complex and multiple factors may be in play, prevention is the final goal. Simply reducing the factors that increase risk and realizing that the issue can encompass all aspects of a person’s life is a start. Prevention should ideally address all areas of influence. To be effective, prevention should promote awareness and encourage social change.
There are approximately one million people that die from suicide each year globally. That’s one death almost every forty seconds. These figures do not include attempted suicide, which is twenty times more frequent. As times get more difficult in the world, there is concern these numbers could rise. One of the top leading causes of death is suicide. While figures vary for different areas of the world, the overall age groups most at risk are those aged 10 to 44.
Male suicide rates have traditionally been highest, but recently the rate among youths has increased exponentially. This increase now puts this group at the highest rate in one third of developed and developing countries. Europeans and those living in North America are at major risk due to mental disorders, while impulsiveness is the risk factor in Asian countries. There are social, psychological, cultural, biological and even environmental factors at play; it is a complex issue.
There are signs to look for that could reveal someone at risk. Pay extra attention if someone’s behavior is new, if the behavior has increased, or if it appears to be related to loss, change or after a painful event. It may be prudent to seek the help of a mental health professional. For immediate care, there are local and international crisis contacts available in almost all countries and states. If you know someone exhibiting any of the following signs it may be time to intervene.
• Talking about death, wanting to die or kill themselves.
• Talking about not having a reason to be alive or an overall feeling of hopelessness.
• Doing research or Internet searches of weapons, especially guns.
• Talking about how he or she is a burden to those around them.
• Talking about having a feeling of being trapped or in pain.
• More frequent use of drugs and/or alcohol.
• Spending a lot of time sleeping or not sleeping enough.
• Feeling isolated or withdrawing from others.
• Acting recklessly; agitated or anxious.
• Talking about taking revenge or displaying rage.
• Uncharacteristic extreme mood swings.
• A sudden change or disregard for personal hygiene.
Pay even closer attention to these warning signs if the person is bipolar, an alcoholic, or has depression and a past history with attempted suicide. Sometimes one of the most dangerous signs is that of feeling hopeless. Hopelessness can strongly predict suicide. When a person feels there is no future and foresees nothing positive they may feel day-to-day life is unbearable. This feeling can be intensified if there is a family history of suicide, as it may seem that their loved ones also saw no reason to go on.
Someone feeling suicidal might not seek help, but it doesn’t mean help isn’t wanted. Most people in this situation don’t really want to die; they just want the hurt to stop. Prevention begins by recognizing the signs and not ignoring them. If you believe someone in your life is considering suicide, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Simply bringing up the subject could save the person’s life and often prevention begins with the sensitive responses of a loved one. Give your family member or friend alternatives, show them you care, and get a medical professional involved. Your reassurance, understanding and support may help the person conquer their ideas of suicide. If he or she opens up to you with feelings of despair or suicidal thoughts, seek the help of a health professional immediately!
If you find yourself in such a situation, remain calm and be prepared to really listen if the person wants to talk. Be understanding and offer emotional support. This is not a time to be angry with the person or disregard what they are feeling. Talk directly about suicide, most people aren’t sure about their feelings about dying or death and want help. Discuss alternatives and problem-solving ideas. Remember the person is not emotionally in a right place and their thinking may be clouded. Be encouraging, hopeful and confident that you can help to arrange whatever is needed to help.
If you have already lost a young person to suicide, memorials are not recommended. While it seems like the right thing to do, unlike an accidental death, a suicide can create issues for other youth in crisis. The problem is that an accident does not attract the attention or likelihood of another youth dying in the same way. A young person, who is struggling with thoughts of suicide, may see the death of another as a viable option. Research has shown that memorials can create this kind of thinking, especially if it seems that instead of being mourned, the person has been honored for what they have done. The following resources can help provide more information and assistance:
A page full of national suicide prevention organizations links as well as initiatives and resources.
Helpful links available for those in crisis now that need immediate help. Information for survivors of suicide who need emotional support services. There are also links for upcoming events and general information.
Includes a crisis hot-line phone number, resource pages on how to get help, and signs of a potential suicide attempt.
Find helpful articles for teens and adults on prevention. Also, includes common misconceptions about suicide and a related links section.
Suicide prevention resources: substance abuse and suicide, prevention lifeline, and suicide prevention resource center.
Website includes information on why college students kill themselves, myths and facts, warning signs, and ways to help.
Offers basic information on why people kill themselves, myths about suicide, how to help and where to find additional help.
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction offers information on how to educate youth about suicide prevention.
This site is designed to provide information and tools to members of the Air Force community. Includes: suicide prevention training, videos and more.
The CDC offers helpful information to guide people through the signs and symptoms of suicide.
University of New Hampshire counseling offers helpful information on the danger signs of suicide, plus other helpful information.
An introduction to suicide and suicide prevention with an article entitled “The Public Health Approach to Preventing Suicide.”
Suicide Prevention Program includes contact information and key national resources.
Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program’s list of behaviors that may lead to suicide attempt or death.
This site offers information on the signs of suicide, how to help a friend, facts on suicide, and suicide and mental illness. Also includes pages for professionals, survivors, and help on how to stop suicide.
This site offers many resources including videos, articles, training, informative tools and much more.
List of risk and protective factors, warning signs, how to help those thinking about suicide, and national statistics on suicide.
A Q&A on how to answer specific questions that a youth may have about different topics relating to suicide.This is a free resource created by Life Insurance Quotes and it is permissible to share so long as original content is kept in tact. If you have questions please call or email.
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