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Identifying distress in students is all about trusting your gut. While there are signs you can look for, the most important thing you can do is just ask when you’re concerned.

Signs of distress are often sudden changes, such as:

  • Change in level of hygiene
  • Noticeable change in diet
  • Change in amount of sleep
  • Change in use of substances
  • Change in attendance

These can be sudden increases or decreases, and are not limited to what’s listed here. As said before, trust your intuition, and it is better to ask and be wrong. It is always beneficial for students to know their instructor cares about their well-being.

If a student is expressing hopelessness, giving away personal belongings, or indicating they may want to die or disappear, these may also be signs of distress, possibly signs of suicidal ideation. In the following sections we will touch on how to help students struggling with suicidal ideation, but we also offer the #WeSupportU Preventing Suicide Training which goes further in depth into this topic.

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