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Suicide Resources

Gannett Health Services
110 Ho Plaza
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-3101

Tel: 607 255-5155
Fax: 607 255-0269
Email

HELP 

24/7 suicide hotlines

  • Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service (Ithaca):
    607 272-1616
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline (national):
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)
  • Grad student hotline:
    1-800-GRADHLP (472-3457)

Email support 24/7

Samaritans provides confidential non-judgmental emotional support via e-mail 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide. NOTE: this is not a hotline, as it may take a few hours or more to generate a response.

Online chat support

NOT 24/7, but the site will tell you if an online counselor is available:

  • Crisisline Online is a free and confidential service offered Monday through Saturday evenings from 6 to 9 pm by Ithaca's Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service. It is available to teens and young adults in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions of New York.
  • HealthyPlace is the first social networking site to focus on mental health treatment and wellness. The online community includes individuals, their family members, loved ones and friends who want to easily and interactively obtain knowledge about symptoms and treatments in a supportive community environment. This site is non-denominal (not faith-based). Different chat rooms are available for those struggling with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-injury, and other conditions.The site requires registration for chatting.
  • New Hope is the first U.S. 24-hour nationwide suicide prevention and telephone counseling center sponsored by a [Christian] church. It utilizes a team of over 350 volunteer counselors. It may be best-suited to participants who identify as Christian.

Suicide information resources

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Investigates research, new educational campaigns, innovative demonstration projects and critical policy work. Currently expanding to assist people whose lives have been affected by suicide: reaching out to offer support and providing opportunities to become involved in prevention.

The Jed Foundation: Works to reduce the rate of suicide and the prevalence of emotional distress among college students. This nonprofit organization was founded by Donna and Phil Satow following the loss of their son, Jed, to suicide.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center: Provides prevention support, training, and resources to assist organizations and individuals to develop suicide prevention programs, interventions and policies, and to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. View their special information for college students.

Research

Suicide in college students

  • Alan Lipschitz, M.D: There has been a tripling of the teenage and young adult suicide rates from the 1950s to the mid-80s, when it began to level off. College students do not die by suicide more often than do other young adults, yet suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students (accidents are the first).

    College students who die by suicide show different personality traits than non student suicides. Most young adults who kill themselves have impulsive, high risk-taking personalities, and the abuse of drugs and alcohol is frequent in this group. College suicides, by contrast, are largely depressed, quiet, socially isolated young people who do not abuse alcohol or drugs, and who draw little attention to themselves.
  • Suicide in College Students: This article has to be downloaded from the Sage Journals Online site.

  • Ann Pollinger Haas, Herbert Hendin, J. John Mann, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Despite substantial attention to the problem of suicide among college students over the past several decades, reports on the extent of the problem have been largely inconclusive. This article reviews the findings of major studies of college suicide, noting how variations in campus and student characteristics, as well as inconsistencies in the way student suicides are defined and measured, have limited comparison of conclusions.

Current evidence is reviewed that points to significant mental health problems on college campuses and suggests the need for outreach programs to identify students at risk for suicide and encourage them into treatment. One such program under development by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is described in detail. Problems related to its implementation are identified and discussed, notably the reluctance of many university officials to know the actual identities of suicidal students.

  • NIMH: Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention: "Is suicide common among children and young people?": In 2006, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.1 Of every 100,000 young people in each age group, the following number died by suicide:

Children ages 10 to 14 — 1.3 per 100,000
Adolescents ages 15 to 19 — 8.2 per 100,000
Young adults ages 20 to 24 — 12.5 per 100,000

There were also gender differences in suicide among young people, as follows: 

Over four times as many males as females ages 15 to 19 died by suicide
More than six times as many males as females ages 20 to 24 died by suicide

Suicide clusters

  • Gould et al, A Study of time-space clustering of suicide, CDC, Sept 1987: Clusters of completed suicide occur predominantly among adolescents and young adults, and account for ~ 1-5% of all suicides in this age group.
  • MMWR 8/19/1988: [Relevant to this 2009-2010, which at Cornell started with a car accident death and a highly publicized H1N1 death, followed by the cancer death of a popular athlete, a skiing injury-related death, and a sudden cardiac death.] The hypothesis that a traumatic death can kindle a suicide cluster regardless of whether it is caused by intentional or unintentional injuries has not yet been tested. Nevertheless, the available anecdotal evidence suggests that some degree of implementation of the response plan be considered when a potentially influential traumatic death occurs in the community – especially if the person who dies is an adolescent or young adult.
  • MMWR 2001: Youth Risk Behavior Survey, grades 9 through 12 In the prior year: 18 % seriously considered suicide, 8.8% had attempted suicide.
  • CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease and Health Promotion, “Youth Risk Surveillance:  National College Health Risk Survey”: More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from all medical illnesses combined. The suicide rate peaks among young adults ages twenty to twenty-four. One in 12 U.S. college students make a suicide plan.
  • NIMH, In Harm’s way: Suicide in American, 2003: 90% of people who kill themselves have depression or another diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder.
  • Psychiatric Times, 2004: Suicidal ideation occurs in about 5.6% of the U.S. population, with about 0.7% of the population attempting suicide. The incidence of completed suicide is far lower, at 0.01%. This rarity of suicide, even in groups known to be at higher risk than the general population, contributes to the impossibility of predicting suicide.

Help works

  • Schwartz, A.  2006, College Student Suicide in the United States: 1990-1991 through 2003.  Journal of American College Health, Vol 54(6): The majority of students who kill themselves never receive counseling services [2004-80.3%, 2003-80.6%,  2002-82.8%]. If they do receive counseling, students are six times less likely to kill themselves.
  • Suicide: The Forever Decision For those Thinking about Suicide and for Those who Know, Love and Counsel Them, by Paul Quinnett, PhD: a book from the QPR Institute available to download for free here

Means restriction on bridges

  • Suicide prevention on bridges: the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline position: The Lifeline Steering Committee position is that the use of bridge barriers is the most effective means of bridge suicide prevention. Decades of research clearly demonstrate that bridge barriers effectively prevent suicides. In general, research has shown that persons thwarted in utilizing a preferred method of suicide do not typically seek other approaches to kill him/her self. 
  • Means Matter: Bridges and Suicide, Harvard School of Public Health: "Means Reduction Saves Lives": A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline. While some suicides are deliberative and involve careful planning, many appear to have an impulsive component and occur during a short-term crisis. At least one-third of suicide decedents under age 18 experienced a crisis within 24 hours of taking their life, according to NVISS data drawn from police and coroner/medical examiner reports.
  • “The Urge to End It All,” New York Times Magazine (07/06/08): "Jumping to one's death is a method of suicide associated with a very high degree of impulsivity. Victims often display few of the classic warning signs associated with suicidal behavior. Those who die by jumping have a lower history of prior suicide attempts, diagnosed mental illness (with the exception of schizophrenia), or drug and alcohol abuse than is found among those who die by less lethal methods (like ingesting pills or poison). Those who jump seem to be drawn by a set of environmental cues that, together, offer three crucial ingredients: ease, speed and the certainty of death.”  

“In the case of people who attempt suicide impulsively, cutting off or slowing down their means to act allows time for the impulse to pass — perhaps even blocks the impulse from being triggered to begin with. What is remarkable, though, is that it appears that the same holds true for the nonimpulsive, with people who may have been contemplating the act for days or weeks.”  

“The more obstacles you can throw up, the more you move it away from being an impulsive act. And once you’ve done that, you take a lot of people out of the game. If you look at how people get into trouble, it’s usually because they’re acting impulsively, they haven’t thought things through. And that’s just as true with suicides as it is with traffic accidents.”

In a 2007 review of research and prevention strategies in Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, the Harvard School of Public Health reported that evidence at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol, England, and the Grafton bridge in Auckland, New Zealand, showed that suicides by jumping decreased when barriers were installed, and increased when they were removed.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, similarly, cites statistics from bridges in Maine, Toronto and Washington, D.C., in a 2008 paper that concludes: "Based on the current state of the research, physical barriers are an effective means of preventing suicides on bridges. Further, there is no evidence that barriers on bridges lead to 'method substitution' for would-be jumpers."

On a local level, Jennifer Streid-Mullen, executive director of Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service of Tompkins County, issued a statement March 23 in support of the barriers. "Bridge barriers in particular represent the most effective proven way of preventing deaths," she wrote. "We have supported the placement of bridge barriers since the late 1970s ... Since then, data supporting the effectiveness of opportunity barriers has only increased."

  • Where Are They Now? A follow-up study of suicide attempters from the Golden Gate Bridge, Richard H. Seiden, PhD, MPH: “The major hypothesis under test, that Golden Gate Bridge attempters will surely and inexorably ‘just go someplace else,’ is clearly unsupported by the data. Instead, the findings confirm previous observations that suicidal behavior is crisis-oriented and acute in nature. Accordingly, the justification for prevention and intervention such as building a suicide prevention barrier is warranted and the prognosis for suicide attempters is, on balance, relatively hopeful.” Only 6% of those whose attempt was thwarted by others went on to die by suicide.
  • “Jumpers,” The New Yorker (10/13/2003): Quoting a survivor of a suicide attempt from the Golden Gate Bridge: “On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. ‘I still see my hands coming off the railing,’ he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, ‘I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable – except for having just jumped.’”

Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide

Suicide is a public health issue. Media coverage of suicide should be informed by using best practices as it can influence behavior negatively by contributing to contagion or positively by encouraging help-seeking.

  • Learn more about the recommendations for reporting on suicide offered by national experts. Review here.
  • Listen to NPR's report on the dangers in covering suicide in the media. Listen here.