Healthy Bulldogs: Suicide Prevention: Let’s talk about it

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Steve Sanchez (Cary Edmondson, University photographer)

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and though it is a difficult topic, the most important thing to do is talk about it. Here are a few tips to help you start the conversation.

Listening goes a long way. Practice active listening skills including paraphrasing, asking open-ended questions, seeking clarification and showing concern.

Listen without judgment and be mindful not to minimize their experience.  You may think that what they are going through is not a big deal, but remember people experience things differently and things have a way of stacking up.

Ask the question! If you are concerned that a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, don’t be afraid to ask the question. Putting it out and talking about it helps reduce the stigma around the issue. It also shows the person that it is okay to reach out and you are someone they can come to.

Attend a FREE Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention Training offered on campus to current Fresno State students, staff and faculty.  The training teaches you warning signs and risk factors of suicide, tips for starting the conversation, how to refer and provides participants with an opportunity to practice asking the question. For more information, training dates and to sign up visit:    

Work with a professional. Sometimes we are not sure how to help someone or feel what we have tried is not working.  Counseling can help! You can consult with a counselor on ways you can support and guide your loved one to seek help.

You can speak with a counselor at the Student Health and Counseling Center or through the Let’s Talk program. Let’s Talk is a free and anonymous mental health service, available Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Kremen Education Room 397 and Industrial Technology Room 242. No appointment necessary.     

Support them through positive action. Ask the person what they need from you. If they are having trouble thinking of anything, make suggestions.  Offer to go with them when they access help. Offer to call or text on a regular basis, get together for coffee or just spend some time hanging out.

Think about the things they usually enjoy doing and offer to join them. These activities are an important part of a self-care routine and often are not being practiced as much.    

What support you offer depends on the relationship you have with the person. If you don’t know the person well or are not as close as you used to be, consider resources like the Fresno State CARE Team, sharing resources or encouraging those who are close to the person to attend a QPR training and become informed.  

Help end the silence. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, visit the Student Health and Counseling Center, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK(8255) or Text “HOME” to 741-741.

Healthy Bulldogs is written by the staff of the Student Health and Counseling Center to encourage Fresno State students to build and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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