L&S Community Support: Information for Helping a Student Who Seems to be in Distress

This document includes important information about how members of the University community (faculty, staff and students) can learn more about suicide prevention and the tragic potential for suicide among students. Included are various resources that have been made available by the Dean of Students and University Health Services to help our community recognize signs of distress and to know when to contact others or report concerns.

Every individual who works with college students will likely have an experience at some point where they are concerned about a student's state of mind or safety. In these situations, it is common to wonder what your role in the situation is, how you should respond, how to get the person help, or have concerns about saying something that makes things worse. Often, students talk to friends, mentors and trusted adults (including UW Faculty and Staff) before seeing a counselor. All faculty and staff on our campus play a role in keeping our students safe and healthy. Here are some resources to aid in that mission: 

Campus and Community Resources - Local mental health, lifeline, and emergency resource contacts 

Faculty & Staff Suicide Prevention Resources - information on helping a student, discussing suicide in the classroom, mental health crisis intervention plans, examples of ways to communicate with at-risk students...etc. 

How to Help a Student in a Mental Health Crisis - a link to a downloadable document on steps and tips to help students in crisis 

UHS Mental Health Webpage

UHS 24-hour Crisis Hotline (608) 265-5600, option 9- on-call counselor available every day to speak to anyone who is thinking about suicide or concerned for the well-being of a friend.

If you have questions or want more information, contact University Health Services at suicideprevention@uhs.wisc.edu.

Reporting Students of Concern  

In order to assist our campus partners in reporting students who are struggling or may be at risk, we have an on-line incident report.  If you are unsure about a situation and would like to consult with someone in the Dean of Students Office, please call 263-5700 and ask for the Dean On-Call. Hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or email dean@studentlife.wisc.edu 

Data on Suicide among College Students
  • For college students and people aged 15 to 24, suicide is the second leading cause of death
  • At UW-Madison, 9% of students reported having suicidal thoughts and 1% of students reported a suicide attempt in the last year. 27% have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Keep in mind these percentages may be higher since only 17% of the student body responded to the survey.