Many of us want to help a friend or loved one, but don't know where to start.
You may be wondering how to help someone you care about who may be suicidal. This can be a frightening concern and people often wonder what they can do while worrying about doing the wrong thing.
There are many things that can help; here are some of the most important:
- Be aware of and learn the suicide warning signs.
- Get involved and show interest and support.
- Ask the person if they are having thoughts of suicide.
- Be direct and use the word “suicide” or “killing yourself.”
- Be willing to listen and accept the person’s feelings.
- Don’t judge the person for their feelings or thoughts or lecture them.
- Never dare them to “just do it.”
- Try to avoid “why” questions – these tend to make people defensive.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy, it will be important for you and the person who may be thinking of suicide to have additional support.
- Do offer hope that alternatives to suicide are available.
- If there are lethal means to suicide available, remove the means. Get help from agencies specializing in crisis and suicide prevention.
These are significant warning signs:
- Someone threatening to kill him/herself or talking about wanting to do this.
- Someone looking for ways to kill him/herself by getting access to guns, available pills or other means.
- Someone who is talking about or writing about death, dying or suicide when this is out of the ordinary for the person.
Additional warning signs include:
- Rage, uncontrollable anger, seeking revenge
- Acting reckless, doing dangerous things without thinking
- Feeling trapped, like there is no way out of their situation
- Increase in alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family and society
- Anxiety, trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time
- Dramatic mood changes
- Having no sense of purpose in life
Important facts to remember:
- Suicide is preventable. Most people do want to live but are unable to see through their pain to what other choices they have.
- Talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal.
- You can help save a life by caring, listening and acting to get help.
If you believe someone is at risk for suicide or has made a suicide attempt:
- Don't leave the person alone.
- Call 911 or your local emergency number right away. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
- Try to find out if he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
- Tell a family member or friend right away what's going on.