Warning Signs and Response

How do you remember the Warning Signs of Distress/Suicide? Here's an easy-to-remember mnemonic:

IS PATH WARM?

I Ideation
S Substance Abuse

P Purposelessness
A Anxiety
T Trapped
H Hopelessness

W Withdrawal
A Anger
R Recklessness
M Mood Changes

Warning Signs of Acute Risk:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill themselves; and or,
  • Looking for ways to kill themselves by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.

These might be remembered as expressed or communicated ideation. If observed, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral.

Expanded Warning Signs:

  • Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling trapped - like there's no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes

If observed, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral.

Credit to American Association of Suicidology.

Helping students in distress and/or who exhibit warning signs

  • Feel free to consult with Counseling and Testing Center staff before and/or after you speak with the student.
  • Arrange a private time to talk with the student.
  • Keep the tone of your talk supportive. Talk with the student as if you were a concerned friend rather than an authority figure.
  • Discuss the specific things that you have seen that concern you.
  • Let the student respond to your concerns.
  • Re-emphasize your care and support, regardless of how he/she responds. Listen.
  • You may mention that other students may struggle with similar issues and that the multiple stressors associated with attending college can be overwhelming.
  • Mention that there are people on campus or in the community who can help.
  • Counseling services are available. Students do not have to struggle with their issues on their own. Seeing a counselor does not become part of their academic record.
  • If you are concerned about imminent risk of suicide, you can call University of Akron Police at 330-972-7123

  • UA Wayne College
    Dr. Jane Fink

    330-684-8767
    jfink@uakron.edu