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For Friends and Families

How to help a friend or family member?

Warning Signs of Stresses

Academic/Work signs:

  • Deterioration in quality of work
  • Missing assignments or appointments
  • Repeated absences
  • Continual seeking of unusual accommodations (late papers, extensions)
  • Essays or papers that have themes of hopelessness, social isolation, rage or despair
  • Inappropriate disruptions or monopolizing class time

Physical or Emotional signs:

  • Tearfulness, sadness, anxiety
  • Trouble eating or sleeping
  • Withdrawing from friends and/or social activities
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, work, school
  • Increased use of alcohol/drugs
  • Anger
  • Excessive irritability
  • Excessive impulsivity


If you notice any of the above warning signs in a friend or loved one, you have reason to be concerned. There are ways that you can be helpful to a friend or loved one who is at risk.

  • Be honest and express your concerns. For example, "You seemed really down lately. Is something bothering you?"
  • Ask directly about thoughts of suicide. For example, "Have you thought of hurting yourself?" If suicidal thoughts are expressed, it is important to contact the university counseling center, student health center, local mental health association or a hospital.
  • Listen and offer emotional support, understanding and patience.
  • Convey the message that depression is real, common, and treatable.
  • Offer to accompany your friend to see a counselor.