Faculty and staff have a tremendous impact on student well-being. This is an especially trying time for us all, and we know that student distress is elevated. Please review the sections below to get a sense of what student communities are experiencing, and how we can best support them.
How do I let students know that I care about them and that they can talk to me?
Tell them right from the start. Take time during your first interaction with students to acknowledge this difficult time we are in, and that you know they are struggling with challenges. Tell them you care about their well-being, and that you want them to get the support they need. Make sure to highlight that you are a source of support for them, and also how they can connect with other sources of support (detailed on this page).
CCSF's Procedures to Respond to a Student at Risk of Suicide
If a student is displaying warning signs of suicide, including critical warning signs that may indicate immediate intent (see signs below), please respond immediately and follow guidelines detailed in CCSF’s Procedures to Respond to a Student At Risk of Suicide.
Critical Warning Signs of Suicide (may indicate immediate intent)
- Talking or threatening to hurt or kills oneself (Includes vague language like “it would be better if I wasn’t here,” “I want out,” wondering “if it all really matters”, “if anyone would notice if I was gone”)
- Making plans for suicide or looking for ways to kill oneself (purchasing a gun, stockpiling pills, etc.)
- Talking, posting or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.
Immediate Help Options
Additionally, the student doesn't need to be experiencing suicidal thoughts to have someone to talk or text with immediately.
- San Francisco Suicide Crisis Lifeline or San Francisco Comprehensive Crises Services (including mobile crisis)
- Call or text 988 or 415-970-4000 (available 24/7)
- Prevention Hotline: 415-781-0500 or call/text 988
- The Trevor Project
- A 24–hour toll-free confidential crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Call 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386)
- California Peer-Run Warm Line
- Veterans Crisis Line
- Call or text 988 (800) 273-8255 and press 1 or text 83825
- California Peer-Run Warm Line
- San Francisco and East Bay FREE and LOW-FEE clinics
Starting the Conversation
This is not a script, but rather an example of what you might say in a conversation with a student. It is important that you use language that feels natural to you and fits the context of your interaction with the student.
Say what you see
- Hi _____, I just wanted to check-in. I've noticed _____, and wanted to see if you want to talk about it.
- [student’s name], I’ve noticed some changes in you recently and I heard you say something earlier today about not being around to see how the next semester goes. Can we talk?
- [instance where they wrote it in an assignment] “[student name], thank you for sharing that with me. My #1 goal is to keep you safe. Can I ask you some questions to see how I can help?”
Show you care
- I care about your well-being, so I just wanted to check in to see how you're doing. I want to know how I can be the most helpful and provide you with some supportive resources.
- Thanks for taking some time to talk with me. I wanted to have this conversation because I care about how you’re doing and want you to know that I’m here to support you.
Hear them out
- Focus on listening. If questions are helpful:
- Wow, I'd like to hear more about that.
- I’m sorry, that seems like a difficult situation to be in, what is that like for you?
Connect to help
- Thank you for being so open with me. I want to make sure that you’re getting the help you need. Would you be open to:
- Talking with a counselor at our health center or getting their assistance to connect with another counselor outside CCSF?
- Taking some confidential crisis/support numbers to text or talk when you need it? (See A-C above)
- Reaching out to ______ for the first time can be a little confusing. Would you like help to connect?