Early detection and timely out-reach are crucial in the prevention of suicide. It is never easy to talk about suicidal thoughts because of the fear of being judged. It is not easy either to support someone at risk of suicide.
- Preoccupations with death or suicidal thoughts (e.g. talking about death or hinting death as a better alternative to living)
- Giving away their valuable possessions or sentimental items
- Making final arrangements such as writing a suicide note (including online postings), preparing for a will, or expressing their funeral arrangements
- A sense of helplessness and hopelessness
- Prior suicide attempts or self-harm
- Impulsive or self-harm behaviours
- Drastic mood swings or a diagnosable mental disorder
- Alcohol intoxication or drug abuse
- Lack of social support and a sense of isolation or loneliness
- Giving up on available means of help
- Untreated depression
Imminent Risk/ Urgent Situations
Suicidal risks become much higher or even imminent when the student:
- is engaging in life-threatening behaviours (e.g. attempting to jump from height or taking drugs)
- has a concrete and lethal suicide plan (in written, verbal, or behavioural forms)
- has already got or is obtaining the necessary objects to carry out the suicide plan
- has a previous suicide attempt
Managing Imminent Suicidal Risks
Take immediate and assertive actions to stop the suicidal behaviours as far as possible.
Below are some suggestions for your consideration, if appropriate:
- Stay calm and be supportive
- Call the Police at 999 if your friend is harming or is going to harm oneself
- Seek help from the Security Control Office (24-hour) at 3917 2882 if the crisis is happening on campus. They can deploy staff to assist you, help you call the police or ambulance, and effectively direct the police or ambulance to the right location on campus
- Call for support immediately. Do not handle the situation alone.
- If your friend is sitting or standing in an unsafe spot, persuade him/her to move to a safe place
- Encourage your friend to stay away from danger
- Stay with your friend. Do not leave your friend alone
- Listen to your friend about his/her distress while waiting for other support
- Encourage or accompany your friend to seek professional help if possible
Calling the Police
When you are calling the police, you should:
- Stay calm
- Briefly describe the critical situation and the student’s condition
- State the exact location of the student. If the student leaves the area, note the direction he/she takes.
- Clearly state your name and contact number for follow-up
Please seek help from the Security Control Office when a crisis happens on campus. They can:
- deploy staff to assist you on campus quickly
- help you call the police or ambulance
- effectively direct the police or ambulance to the right location on campus
Calling an Ambulance
In the case of an emergency or injury where emergency ambulance service is required, you can call the Fire Services Communication Center at 2735 3355.
To enable efficient deployment of resources, the caller should provide:
- What has happened
- Accurate and detailed location of the incident
- Brief description of the condition
- Contact details
If you are in doubt, it is advisable to consult the Security Control Centre at (852) 3917-2882.
In case you need to seek help outside the Main Campus, or need support after office hours, refer to After-hour Emergencies.
If the risk is not imminent
- Take the suicidal thoughts and threats seriously
- Actively approach your friend and share your concerns
- Be there to listen to your friend. Do not trivialise or dismiss your friend’s pain or distress
- Tell your friend that support is available and you want to help
- Encourage and support your friend to seek professional help (e.g. Counselling and Person Enrichment or University Health Services as soon as possible.
- Seek advice from Duty Counsellor at CoPE
- Provide information on hotlines and services in the community to your friend, including suicidal prevention hotlines
If you want to learn more about how to help people at risk of suicide, you may join the Mental Health First Aid Training course.