Dear members of the PSU Community:
I want to make you aware that our campus community has recently experienced the loss of two students, in two separate tragic incidents. The death of any member of our student community is sad and very heartbreaking. In both cases, it appears the students took their own lives.
As a community, we are committed to providing an environment conducive for students to learn, grow and succeed. If you or someone you know is experiencing distress or thoughts of suicide, we encourage you to seek help. We know students can play an extremely important role in referring other students for help. Students are frequently in a position to first observe signs of distress in other students.
A simple and straightforward expression of concern is, in most cases, the most powerful way of helping friend. Tell them what you have observed and that you are concerned about their well-being and their success. Explain that there are services available on campus to help them get back on track when life circumstances are getting in the way. In some cases, it may be helpful to offer to walk someone over to Student Health and Counseling Services (SHAC) at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Hall Street. Counseling services are confidential and covered by student fees.
If you are unsure about whether, or how, to intervene with a friend who appears to be distressed, ask yourself the following questions:
Is this student’s behavior distressingly out of the ordinary?
Is this beyond my skill level?
Is the behavior getting worse?
Does the behavior place anyone at (immediate) risk?
Am I feeling like I want to talk with someone about my observations and concerns?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, it is probably a good idea to reach out. Call SHAC and ask to talk with the on-call counselor. If that person is not immediately available and you don’t feel you can wait, ask if someone else is available for consultation. SHAC can help you evaluate the situation.
If you have answered the question, “Does the behavior place anyone in immediate risk?” in the affirmative and the very serious or threatening incident of distressed behavior occurs in the classroom, academic building, or on the campus, Campus Pubic Safety should be contacted immediately at 503-725-4408 (emergency number).
If you would like to know more about our campus suicide prevention efforts or would like to attend a suicide prevention workshop please contact Student Health and Counseling at 503-725-2800.
Wim Wiewel, President
Jackie Balzer, Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Signs that a student is distressed
Excessive class absences
Declining academic performance
Poor emotional control
Sleeping and/or eating habits that change dramatically
Excessive concern about personal health, persistent depression
Talking openly about suicide
Repeatedly engaging in risky behavior.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students
Over 60 percent of male suicides are gun related
Young males are four to six times more likely to commit suicide than young females
On average, there are 7.5 suicides for every 100,000 college students, half the average for non-college students in the same 15–24 age group
Common risk factors for college students
Problems involving relationships, money, academics and parents
Excessive use of drugs and alcohol
Prior suicide attempts
Campus resources for suicide prevention
Counseling and Psychological Services: 503-725-2800
Dean of Students: 503-725-4422
Vice Provost for Student Affairs: 503-725-5249
Campus Public Safety: 503-725-4407 (non-emergency number)
Resource materials are available at: www.shac.pdx.edu/caps/suicideprevention.php