Oakland University

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(248) 370-2100

Suicide Prevention

Grizzlies Response: Awareness and Suicide Prevention (GRASP) was started by several OU professors who saw a need for mental health awareness, particularly suicide prevention, on campus and in the community. In fall 2012, they received a Garrett L. Smith Suicide Prevention Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The purpose of the grant is to train faculty, staff, and students to effectively address mental health, build community relationships, and educate and provide resources to the OU community.

The goals of the GRASP grant initiative included: promoting suicide prevention through campus and community partnerships, providing suicide prevention training to campus gatekeepers, creating educational supports for the campus community, and evaluating campus crisis protocols.  The principal investigators of the GRASP grant who remain at OU are Drs. Michael MacDonald and Lisa Hawley of the School of Education and Human Services.

The Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (Grant No. 1U79SM060542-01) provided support for the foundational suicide prevention work at Oakland University. The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.

Helping Someone in Need and Warning Signs

Many students initially seek assistance from faculty or staff members when they are having problems meeting their academic responsibilities. Others don’t seek the assistance directly but may display warning signs that they are having difficulties managing their academic and personal life. Faculty and staff may also have colleagues that come to them when they are having problems. The same warning signs and guidelines for helping someone apply for faculty, staff, and students.

Warning Signs

Students, faculty or staff should contact a mental health professional and OU police when you hear or see any of these behaviors:

  • Someone threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
  • Someone looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
  • Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person

The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or 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 isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Guidelines for Interaction:

  • Talk to the individual in private.
  • Express concern. Be as specific as possible in stating your observations and reasons for concern.
  • Listen carefully to everything the individual says.
  • Repeat the essence of what the individual has told you so your attempts to understand are communicated.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Consider Graham Counseling Center as a resource and discuss referral with the individual.
  • If the individual resists referral and you remain uncomfortable with the situation, contact the OU Counseling Center or the Dean of Students to discuss your concern.

Social Media Support

An increasing number of the population uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. every day- often in lieu of face-to-face communication. With this revolutionary shift comes an increase in the incidence of people-at-risk using these media to voice thoughts of suicide. Social networkers who have never been faced with such serious and urgent crises can be placed in very difficult situations when this occurs. When suicide ideation is expressed in these forums, a response is needed.

Warning Signs in Social Media Content

From time to time you may encounter a person who is expressing thoughts of suicide on your social media sites. If someone you know online is showing any of these warning signs, it is important that you take action. Contact the police or call a close family member or friend of the person to seek assistance. You could also screenshot the content to share with the police or other authorities.  If you are friends with the person in real life or know where the person is, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) so that you can talk to a crisis counselor.

  • Writing about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Writing about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Writing about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Writing about being a burden to others.
  • Writing about seeking revenge. 

(from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline)

How to Flag Content as Suicidal

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline has compiled a list of the top social media sites that allow a user to flag content as suicidal and alert the site moderators. The moderators will generally contact the user and provide the number to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, although each site has its own protocols.  For the full list and links to their reporting mechanisms, please view the Suicide Prevention Lifeline web page, and see "Contact Safety Teams at Social Media Sites".

Resources for Faculty/Staff

Help is available to faculty and staff at OU who might be facing mental health issues or know someone who is. Faculty and staff resources include the OU Counseling Center, the SEHS Counseling Center, and the Employee Assistance Program.

OU Counseling Center

Counseling is not available for faculty or staff but the OU Counseling Center staff will help direct a faculty or staff member to the appropriate resources.

The OU Counseling Center provides excellent resources on how to identify and approach troubled individuals.

You may not be comfortable approaching a student or fellow faculty and staff member about whom you are concerned. There are other options. If you have a concern about a student, faculty, or staff member, you can:

  • Consult a counselor at the OU Counseling Center at (248) 370-3465
  • Consult the Dean of Students at (248) 370-3352 (for concerns about a student)
  • Use OU’s Report and Support feature (for anyone on campus). 

If you feel that an individual is in immediate danger of harming himself or herself or someone else, please call OU Police at (248) 370-3331.

SEHS Counseling Center (in Pawley Hall)

  • All staff, faculty and students are eligible for general counseling services provided by graduate students in training
    • Excludes crisis counseling, substance abuse issues, court-ordered counseling and severe mental health issues
  • Services are free  

Contact the SEHS Counseling Center for more information.

Unum & Health Advocate Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

The Oakland University and Unum partnership provides an additional benefit to members, which is an Employee Assistance Program offered through a third-party company called Health Advocate. Your EAP is provided at no cost to you in conjunction with your employer-paid Long-Term Disability policy. It is designed to help you lead a happier and more productive life at home and at work. The EAP services are available to all eligible employees, spouses/OEAs, dependent children, parents, and parents-in-law. You can contact Health Advocate 24/7 for confidential assistance with the following items:

  • A Licensed Professional Counselor can help with stress, depression, anxiety, relationship issues, divorce, job stress, work conflicts, family or parenting problems, anger, grief, loss, and more.
  • Work/Life Specialists at Health Advocate can answer questions and help you find resources in your community to assist with the following topics: child care, elder care, legal questions, identity theft, financial services, debt management, credit reporting issues, reducing medical/dental bills, and more.
  • Call Health Advocate at 800-854-1446 (multi-lingual) or go online to www.unum.com/lifebalance.

Contact HR for more information on the program.

Resources for Students

If you see suicide warning signs, don’t ignore them. They are usually indicative of something more than everyday stress. Peers reaching out to peers is one of the best strategies for suicide prevention. If you see the warning signs in your friend, do not ignore them. Students in distress are more likely to approach their friends before they talk to a professional. As a student, you might be in a position where a friend may share their feelings with you more directly. If your friend on a social network sends out signs of distress or threatens suicide, take it seriously and follow up on the situation.

What Now?

Reach out to your friend. Express your concern. Be direct and honest. Encourage getting help without sitting in judgment, acting shocked or suggesting that you have all the answers. And – above all – be available and listen. You may not understand what your friend is going through, but you can help him/her through it. Don’t be a counselor.

Learn the resources available so that you can provide your friend with options. Be persistent – because of the stigma associated with getting professional help for mental health concerns, your friend may not be willing to seek the help that he/she needs. Offer to call if he/she is reluctant, or offer to come to the first appointment. It is often the first step that is the hardest.

Take Care of Yourself

Helping a friend who is struggling with a mental health problem can be very stressful. Recognize your own personal limits and be aware of your own needs for staying healthy. Remember, you are not a mental health care provider; you are simply a supportive friend. It is not your responsibility to save someone; your only responsibility is to care and get the person to help. If you need help, don’t hesitate to get it!

The OU Counseling Center provides excellent resources on how to identify and approach troubled students.

You may not be comfortable approaching a fellow student about whom you are concerned. There are other options. If you have a concern about a student, faculty, or staff member, you can:

  • Consult a counselor at the OU Counseling Center at (248) 370-3465
  • Consult the Dean of Students at (248) 370-3352 (for concerns about a student)
  • Use OU’s Report and Support feature (for anyone on campus). 

If you feel that an individual is in immediate danger of harming himself or herself or someone else, please call OU police at (248) 370-3331.

Check out Half of Us, a collaboration by mtvU and the Jed Foundation to promote mental health awareness for college students. It offers a confidential online assessment and more.

Quick Resource Links
On-Campus Resources

Emergency - OU Police
Phone: 911 (from a campus phone) (248) 370-3333
Location: Meadowbrook Road, across from Science and Engineering buildings
Availability: 24/7

OU Counseling Center
Phone: (248) 370-3465
Location: East Wing of the Graham Health Center, just north of Meadow Brook Theater
Availability: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

SEHS Counseling Center
Phone: (248) 370-2633
Location: 2nd Floor of Pawley Hall
Availability: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. -  9 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.*

*Center is closed when classes are not in session and for all holidays.

Off-Campus Resources

Common Ground
Phone: (248) 456-0909 (800) 231-1127 (toll-free)
Location: Multiple locations in Oakland County
Availability: 24/7

Macomb Crisis Center
Phone: (586) 307-9100
Location: Multiple locations in Macomb County
Availability: 24/7

(LGBTQ Support)
Phone: (800) 398-GAYS
Location: 290 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, MI 48220
Availability: Monday-Saturday 3 - 9 p.m.

(Domestic & Sexual Violence Support)
Phone: (248) 334-1274
Location: Multiple locations in Oakland County
Availability: 24/7

Oakland Family Services
Phone: (248) 853-0750 (866) 903-8955 (toll-free)
Location: Multiple locations in Oakland County
Availability: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.*

*Hours vary by location.

Macomb Family Services
Phone: (586) 226-3440
Location: Multiple locations in Macomb County
Availability: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.*

*Hours vary by location.

State and National Resources and Hotlines

View a list of national resources and hotlines. This list includes resources for everyone, but also has resources for specific populations including students, veterans, LGBTQ, mothers, etc.

Request Training

Training on Mental Illness and Suicide

Material based on current best-practices and evidence-based practices from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is used to provide training to address the needs of students, faculty and staff at OU related to mental illness and suicide prevention. The training includes:

  • Background information on mental illness and suicide
  • Warning signs of mental illness and suicide
  • OU-specific information and resources
  • Skills to approach an individual in-need

Training is open to OU faculty, staff and students.  Sessions are approximately 1.5 hours and are free of charge.

A minimum of 10 participants is preferred for training sessions, but smaller groups may be accommodated.

Request a training now.

Mental First Aid Training

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognized, "in-person training that teaches you how to help people developing a mental illness or in a crisis". The material is based on current best-practices and evidence-based practices. Participants have been demonstrated to:

  • Grow their knowledge of signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental illnesses and addictions.
  • Identify multiple types of professional and self-help resources for individuals with a mental illness or addiction.
  • Increase their confidence in and likelihood to help an individual in distress.
  • Show increased mental wellness themselves.

Studies also show that the program reduces stigma. 

Sessions are 8 hours in length and offered both in person at OU and in a hybrid format. Hybrid formats require 2 hours of individual online work prior to a 6 hour virtual training session (8 hours total). In person training will be offered in both a single-day session or split into two 4-hour sessions.

Training is available for OU faculty, staff and students and is free of charge. Sessions are limited to 20 participants.