Suicide Prevention Week—Q&A with University Health and Counseling Services

Trigger warning: Discussions about suicide and suicidal ideation

This week (September 4-10) is National Suicide Prevention Weekwhich aims to shed light on this leading cause of death and inspire individuals to learn more about suicide prevention and how it can help save lives.

In 2020, suicide was among the top nine causes of death for people ages 10 to 64 (, or about one death every 11 minutes.

The number of people who think or attempt suicide is even higher. In 2020, an estimated 12.2 million American adults seriously thought about suicide and 1.2 million attempted suicide (

And although suicide and suicidal thoughts affect many people, they are rarely discussed in an open, safe, and normalized way. The good news, however, is that suicidal thoughts and behaviors are not weaknesses or flaws and can in fact be reduced with support and treatment. Create spaces for discussion and equip people with tools and resources, is effective — suicide prevention Is work.

To better equip the Case Western Reserve University community with these tools and resources, such as the University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) THINK suicide prevention trainings, and to promote more informed conversation on the topic, The Daily sat down with two UHCS experts – Naomi Drakeford, PhD, Associate Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Hillary Jones, Associate Director of Counseling Services and Certified Professional Clinical Counselor with Supervision – to get answers to questions community members may have (but may not feel comfortable asking).

Do suicidal thoughts and ideation always involve the desire to kill oneself?

Yes and no. In terms of intensity, suicidal thoughts exist on a spectrum. At one end, you may experience more passive thoughts. For example, a person might think, “I won’t do anything, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing if I didn’t wake up.” This can be where the ideation begins and, if left unaddressed, is where it can escalate into a plan, method, and intention to follow. It is important to take any thoughts on this spectrum seriously.

I recently had suicidal thoughts and it scared me because I had never experienced this before. Are they common?

When someone has a thought like this, it’s an indicator that something else is going on – stress, anxiety, depression, trauma – and there are many things that could cause a person to have thoughts. like this one. Sometimes it scares people when they have suicidal thoughts, but we want to help people understand that this really isn’t a rare experience. So often people don’t talk about it and it makes it seem rare.

What should I do if I have suicidal thoughts?

If you are a student, we have a number of resources available. The first thing we encourage you to do is ask for help – UHCS would be high on the list. During business hours, call us (216.368.5872) or go online at and book your same-day appointment.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, we would certainly like to speak with you on the day to assess safety and ensure a plan is in place for any additional safety measures, if required. If you encounter these thoughts outside of office hours, you can always call our main phone line (216.368.5872) – we have a duty counselor available 24/7.

It is also possible to connect to CWRU Care, which offers 24/7/365 telehealth services.

Whether [you are] having suicidal thoughts and would prefer not to go through UHCS then we would recommend the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – anyone suffering from suicidal thoughts can dial 988 (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline suicide) to get help.

What if I am a faculty or staff member? Would my steps be similar?

UHCS does not offer the same day appointment option to faculty or staff as we do with students, but you can always call us – we always take phone calls from faculty or staff they are in distress, or if they are worried about a student.

We can help you determine what your current risk level is at that time and connect you with someone who can help, either through Impact Solutions or someone in the community. Additionally, the 988 lifeline is also an option.

Let’s say I’m having suicidal thoughts, but I don’t want to scare my family or friends. I don’t think I’m going to do anything, but should I still talk to someone?

Any thought like this is always worth addressing and is usually a sign that something deeper is going on – something in your life. it could be better and support would be helpful. Even if you’re thinking, “Well, I’m not going to do anything,” it’s still important to address, and we encourage people to let someone know. We hear from many students that they don’t want to ‘burden’ anyone in their life, or cause worry, that’s why we’re available – you can contact us for help without fear of be a “burden”. .’

It’s important to realize that even if you don’t feel like you’re going to act on your thoughts today, it may fluctuate. We would hate for you not to receive the support you need and for the severity of your thoughts to change.

What should I do if my close friend or family member is having suicidal thoughts? I’m afraid I’m being too pushy—what if they kick me out?

If you are a student, all the options we discussed earlier are available. We often have students call us for a staff advisor, and we really encourage students to do so, especially if they are worried about another student. Our consultations are confidential.

A student may also submit a CARE Report anonymously through the Dean of Students’ Office. Going through this process is not confidential, and the Dean of Students’ office may contact the student in distress.

If a student is concerned about a family member, they can call our office and we can recommend various community resources.

We also want to encourage people to seek support for themselves. Worrying about someone else can take a toll on our mental health, and it can be quite scary. We recommend all of these same resources.

I lost someone very close to suicide. What should I do to deal with grief?

There are different options for different people. We strongly recommend therapy to process this grief and to try to make sense of it. Part of what makes losing someone to suicide so traumatic is that it doesn’t make sense – it’s very hard to comprehend. It is also very common for people to feel guilty after losing someone in this way. It’s important to connect with a professional who can help you understand where these feelings of responsibility and guilt are coming from, and how to overcome them.

There are a variety of different groups available to students – from suicide survivor support groups to bereavement support groups – depending on the individual’s experience of bereavement.

Sometimes people can even go through a period of depression as a result of this type of loss, so speaking with a medication provider can also be helpful. There are many options and it really comes down to what an individual needs and what will help them the most. If they’re not sure, that’s where we come in – we can help someone identify what would be most useful for them.

We also encourage you to recognize that grieving is a process. You are likely to feel a number of different emotions, including sometimes anger at the person you have lost. It is therefore very important to create a space to feel all these emotions.

Need help now?

If you or someone you know is in trouble or in crisis, help is available. Call University Health and Counseling Services at 216.368.5872, call or text 988, or chat with

We encourage all students, faculty and staff to download the Reach Out app. CWRU’s Reach Out app (available for download from Google Play and the Apple Store) provides quick access to support and resources such as crisis hotlines, tips to help a friend in need, coping skills and services offered on campus and in the community.

We also encourage the CWRU community to learn more about our available programs and workshops, as well as our THINK suicide prevention trainings.

Additional Resources:

Ohio Suicide Support Groups
American Association of Suicidology