Penn College PSA: Talking with your student about risky behavior

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Parent Newsletter article – Spring 2014, Issue 2

The college years are filled with opportunities and challenges, and you have probably watched (and listened) as your son or daughter experienced the ups and downs of these moments. Many students become stressed and overwhelmed, and this sometimes leads to depression, and in some cases, suicidal thoughts. In fact, in one study one in ten college students said that they had considered suicide in the past year.  Unfortunately, the Penn College community experienced the tragedy of suicide on our campus this year.  As always, we are committed to the well-being of our students, and are continually educating students, faculty, and staff about warning signs and symptoms of suicide, as well as the availability of support services on campus. We recognize that, as family members, it is important for you to be a part of this prevention network as well, and offer these suggestions about what you can do.

  • Talk with your son or daughter about suicide just as you would about other risky behaviors such as drinking and driving. Talking about suicide does not plant the idea in someone's head; rather it gives them permission to talk about something that may have been difficult to bring up otherwise.
  • Know the warning signs and symptoms. These include:
    • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and anger
    • Comments such as "Everyone would be better off without me" or "I'm so tired and can't take it anymore."
    • Engaging in risky behaviors, substance abuse
    • Sleep, energy or appetite changes
    • Changes in personality, loss of interest, withdrawal from friends and family
    • Situational triggers such as recent break-ups, loss or death, legal or academic trouble, divorce or separation in family
  • Encourage your son or daughter to go to the Counseling Services office if you are concerned.
  • If you believe that the situation is serious and your son or daughter is unwilling to seek help, call someone who you feel can talk to him or her – an advisor, Residence Life staff member, or the Counseling Services office at 570-327-4765. After business hours, you can call the Penn College Police at 570-321-5555.

The most important thing to do is keep the lines of communication open. You may be in the best position to notice when something is wrong. And, again, know that members of the Penn College community are listening, too.

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Williamsport, PA 17701


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