How to Help

What to Say and Do

There are actions you can take to help prevent suicide.

  • Take the warning signs seriously.
  • Reach out. Show your concern. Expressing genuine concern is more important than saying the right thing. If you’re not sure what to say, ask more questions: “What’s been going on that has you feeling this way?” “I want to understand. Can you tell me more?”
  • Ask if the person is thinking about suicide. Be direct. Be persistent and sensitive to solicit an answer: “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?”
  • Convey hope to the person who is struggling. Hope is the best defense against suicide. Avoid telling them why they should live, such as telling them to think about their family or their loved ones. Instead, offer hope for getting help: “I can see this has been really painful for you. Let’s call someone who can help,” or “I know you feel hopeless right now. Most people who feel this way eventually feel better. Let’s call someone together.”
  • Listen and accept the person's feelings calmly and without judgment: “It sounds like you have been going through a really hard time,” or “I can see this has been really hard on you.”
  • Know the resources at the University of Louisville and in our community.
  • Offer to go with the person for help: “Let’s call someone together,” or “I’d love to walk/ride along with you, if that’s okay with you.”
  • Stay with the person. Find someone else who can help, such as family, friends, the Dean of Students Office, the Counseling Center, a resident advisor or campus security.
  • There are actions you can take to help prevent suicide.
  • File a Student Concern Report to link the person to university services.

Cards SPEAK offers advocacy training to help members of the UofL community to become suicide prevention advocates.

Know the Warning Signs

Warning Signs of Suicidal Behavior

These signs may mean that someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if the behavior is new, or has increased, and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

Download the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Wallet Card: Learn the Warning Signs – 2013 in English or en Español. Source: SAMHSA.

What if?

What if the person refuses help or doesn’t want me to tell anyone?

  • Do not be sworn to secrecy, instead voice your concern and offer to help seek care
  • Safety takes priority over confidentiality
  • Talk to the professionals (Residence Life, Dean of Students, UofL Department of Public Safety, or the Counseling Center, etc.)
  • Do not share unnecessary information with friends (gossip)

What if the person is expressing suicidal statements on social media?

  • Offer hope and share resources at the University of Louisville and in our community
  • Report the concerns to the social media site’s safety team


Cards Speak

Student Activities Center W301

University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky 40292

Office Hours

M-F 9:00am to 5:00 pm

No holiday hours


tel (502) 852-5787

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