When someone says he or she is thinking about suicide, or says things that sound as if the person is considering suicide, it can be very upsetting. You may not be sure what to do to help, whether you should take talk of suicide seriously, or if your intervention might make the situation worse. Taking action is always the best choice. Here's what to do.
The first step is to find out whether the person is in danger of acting on suicidal feelings. Be sensitive, but ask direct questions, such as:
Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won't push someone into doing something self-destructive. In fact, offering an opportunity to talk about feelings may reduce the risk of acting on suicidal feelings.
You can't always tell when a loved one or friend is considering suicide. But here are some common signs:
If someone has attempted suicide:
If a friend or loved one talks or behaves in a way that makes you believe he or she might attempt suicide, don't try to handle the situation alone:
If you're a teenager who's concerned that a friend or classmate may be considering suicide, take action.
It may be hard to tell whether a friend or classmate is suicidal, and you may be afraid of taking action and being wrong. If someone's behavior or talk makes you think he or she might be suicidal, the person may be struggling with some major issues, even if not considering suicide at the moment. You can help the person get to the right resources.
If a friend or loved one is thinking about suicide, he or she needs professional help, even if suicide isn't an immediate danger. Here's what you can do.
If someone says he or she is thinking of suicide or behaves in a way that makes you think the person may be suicidal, don't play it down or ignore the situation. Many people who kill themselves have expressed the intention at some point. You may worry that you're overreacting, but the safety of your friend or loved one is most important. Don't worry about straining your relationship when someone's life is at stake.
You're not responsible for preventing someone from taking his or her own life — but your intervention may help the person see that other options are available to stay safe and get treatment.