Suicide Prevention

The Student Health Center (SHC) is committed to preventing suicide and self-harming behaviors in our community. If you are concerned that a GW student may be suicidal or if they exhibit any of the suicide risk factors, please call (202) 994-5300 and ask to speak to a counselor (or press option 2 after-hours) who can help guide you on how to address your concern. You can also consider submitting a CARE referral.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Find more information about the Lifeline at

Risk Factors for Suicide

There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors exceed a person’s current coping abilities. Those who experience feeling suicidal may exhibit the following:

Suicide Can Sound Like

Suicide Can Look Like

"being a burden to others" Increased use of alcohol or drugs Depression
"feeling trapped" Looking for a way to take their life Anger
"experiencing unbearable pain" Acting recklessly Loss of Interest
"having no reason to live" Withdrawing from activities Irritability
"I don't want to do this anymore" Isolating from family and friends Humiliation
"no one understands me" Sleeping too much or too little Anxiety
"I will be better off gone" Giving away things/Tying up loose ends Aggression

Adapted from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

How to Have a Conversation About Suicide

You might have never directly dealt with a suicidal person. If such a situation presents itself, you might feel uncomfortable, hopeless, or even overwhelmed. Despite these feelings, it is very important that you show support to this person: ask them about any suicidal thinking and refer them to get help. Doing so can be the difference between life and death. Here are some steps you can follow. 

Directly ask about suicidal intentions

Ask, “Are you thinking about suicide?” You will not increase a person’s risk of suicide by asking them directly about it. Studies show that such a question can be a relief to a person who is suicidal. They may actually welcome the chance to express painful feelings. Even if the person is not having suicidal thoughts, they are likely to appreciate your care and concern for them.

Tell them that you care

Show that you care, and express it: “I care about you.” “You are important to me.” In the moment, we recommend avoiding judgmental statements or arguing about the moral issues regarding suicide.

Tell them that help is available and let them know how to seek help

Let the individual know that help is available, help is effective, and that seeking help is the courageous thing to do. You could even offer to accompany them to their initial consultation at the Student Health Center, or could help them schedule an appointment with a counselor or doctor of their choice.

Follow up

Oftentimes people are uncomfortable talking to a suicidal person a second time because “they don’t want to remind them of their misery,” they “don’t want to make them uncomfortable,” or they figure “if they need to talk to me again, they will.” The fact is that most people in distress feel like a burden to others, and are unlikely to bring this issue up again. It is important to let the individual know that you are still thinking about them and care about them, and, most importantly, it is important that you follow up to insure that they have received help.

Talk with others

This is extremely important! Do not allow yourself to be the only one helping a suicidal person. Recognize the limits of your expertise and responsibility. Share your concerns by submitting a CARE referral, or talk with family, friends, or appropriate staff members. Do not be bound by secrecy. An angry friend is better than a deceased one.

Adapted from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 

If You’re Having Thoughts of Suicide

We understands that suicide can affect anyone, at anytime, for any reason. We also believe suicide is preventable. If you are thinking about suicide call us now at (202) 994-5300 (option 2). We have counselors available 24 hours a day, everyday.  

If you or someone you know is an imminent danger to themselves or someone else and you are on campus, call GW Emergency Services by dialing (202) 994-6111 or, if you are off campus, call 911, or go to the nearest Emergency Room.

Anyone can also call or text 988 for immediate connection to crisis services.

Additional Resources

National Suicide Prevention

CrisisLink - 800-SUICIDE (784-2433) (24 hours) or (703) 527-4077

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 800-273-TALK (8255)

Veterans Crisis Line - 800-273-8255 (press 1)

District of Columbia Suicide Prevention

Access HelpLine - 888-7WE-HELP (888-793-4357)

Maryland Suicide Prevention

Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline - 800-422-0009

Montgomery County Crisis Center - 240-777-4000

Prince George's County Community Crisis Services, Inc - 301-864-7130