As you watched this role play, you were probably glad that you
weren't the faculty or staff person in this interaction. It can
be frightening to be involved in life and death situations such
as suicide attempts, especially when the student breaks off the
What do you think about how the advisor handled the situation?
What would you have done similarly or differently?
What would you do now that the student has hung up?
Take a few moments to answer these questions
before going on.
The most important immediate step in this particular situation
is to try to locate the student so that you can arrange for an
emergency medical intervention. This overdose of 24 extra strength
Tylenol could very well be fatal if no intervention occurs.
When the worst happens, and a student who has made a suicide
attempt hangs up when you are talking with them, you can try to
call back using *69 or call 911
to see if the operator or police can trace the call.
You might also try to call the advisor to see if she knows who
the student might be.
Is there someone she's been counseling who she thinks could be
What else do you think might work based on your phone system
or emergency services?
This role play was very dramatic, and while it's possible that
a student who is suicidal might present in this way, fortunately
most students who call or come into your office will be asking
for help directly rather than acting out their suicidal feelings
and plans at the moment. They will allow you to intervene and
usually offer assistance.
Because suicidal ideation and attempts are common in a young
adult population, it's helpful for all professionals who interact
with students to increase their comfort with questioning and responding
to suicide as an issue. By increasing your comfort level through
asking questions about suicide, and responding to the danger level
of a situation, you literally can be a lifeline for some students.
NEXT: SCREENING FOR SUICIDE