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Student Health and Well-Being

Warning Signs

Fifty to 75 percent of all suicide victims give some warning signs of their intentions in the week before. Familiarize yourself with the signs and register for suicide prevention training.

Be Aware of These Signs


If you hear someone:

  • Talking about wanting to die, “killing themselves,” or suicide
  • Mentioning ways to end their life or making specific plans to do so
  • Talking about feeling empty, alone, or “over it”
  • Saying people in their life would be better off without them
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

If you observe someone:

  • Sleeping less—or a lot more—than usual
  • Eating much less—or a lot more—than usual
  • Withdrawing from people or social activities
  • Stop taking care of their personal hygiene
  • Increasing their use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting recklessly
  • Having big changes in their usual behavior


If you notice someone feeling:

  • Extremely anxious, agitated, irritable, or angry
  • Persistently sad or depressed
  • Up and down in their moods 
  • Hopeless, trapped, or without purpose
  • Like a burden to others
  • Numb or not interested in the parts of life they usually enjoy

Take Action

  • Call 911 immediately or take the person to the nearest emergency room.
  • Call the Counseling Center at 803-777-5223 and send a report to the Student Care and Outreach Team. This ensures the team members at USC have the information they need to respond, if necessary.

Ask the person if they are thinking about suicide

It's OK. Asking them will not “put the idea” about suicide in their head and there are ways you can talk about it.

Ask directly “Are you thinking of suicide?” or “It seems like you feel like things aren’t going to get better. Sometimes when people feel as if things aren’t going to get better, they think about killing themselves. Have you been thinking about killing yourself?”

You may need to be persistent, but gentle, before they are willing to open up and talk. If you can’t ask them about suicide, find someone who can — a counselor or an on-call residence life staff member.

Imminent signs must be taken seriously. Show your care and concern, validate the person's emotions and offer hope.

  • Be non-judgmental and do not debate whether suicide is right or wrong.
  • Express concern. Be as direct and specific as possible in stating your reasons for concern.
  • Be available — show interest, understanding and support.

Do not attempt to argue someone out of suicide. Rather, let the person know you care, that he or she is not alone, that suicidal feelings are often temporary and that there is help available.


Sign up for training

Become a Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper. Take the training to recognize the signs of distress and learn to get help for those who are struggling. Sign up for training.


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