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Suicide Awareness and Prevention

If you are having suicidal thoughts, we strongly recommend you seek help immediately. Similarly, we are here for you if someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide. You are not alone in your struggles. 

  • Call CAPS (we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) at (434) 243-5150
  • Connect with a TimelyCare mental health professional within minutes via phone or video using TalkNow. 

Anyone at any age can have suicidal thoughts. However, surveys and data tell us that people between the ages of 18 and 26 most frequently have suicidal thoughts. Within that age range, NIMH reports that about one out of every 10 people have experienced these thoughts in the past year. Among UVA students, about 2,000 reported having serious suicidal thoughts in the past year in a February 2018 ACHA Survey.

CAPS Suicide Prevention Program

The CAPS suicide prevention program was initiated in 1996 with the help of a grant from the Clay Foundation. The program focuses on providing services to reduce the incidence of suicide and to save lives. The program structure includes primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention focuses on community education among gatekeepers regarding manifestations of suicidality, depression, and other mental health concerns. Secondary intervention focuses on clinical assessment and treatment for students at risk of suicide. Tertiary intervention focuses on treatment and/or case management for students at high risk, often following a suicide attempt or increased thoughts of suicide. Ongoing program assessment using the Air Force Suicide Prevention Program Areas ensures an attempt at continuous quality improvement. For more about this program, call CAPS at (434) 243-5150 or contact the CAPS Assistant Director for Crisis Services.


There is a wide range of reasons why someone may be having suicidal thoughts. It is not the responsibility of a student to evaluate whether or not these reasons are valid. Rather, it's recommended that a peer:
1) listens carefully;
2) asks open-ended questions;
3) offers a sense of hope and assesses the individual's motivation for accepting care; and
4) helps the person stay safe.

You may also consider asking direct questions such as, "Are you thinking about ending your life?" or "Are you thinking about suicide?" If the response to either question is "yes," contact a counseling professional immediately.

It is important to recognize warning signs of suicide.  Similarly, it is wise to be conversant regarding myths and facts about suicide.

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