How to Help

Listen

  • Allow the person to express feelings.
  • Take suicide threats seriously.
  • Be non-judgmental.
  • Say things such as:
    • “I’m here for you.”
    • “Let’s talk.”
    • “I care about what happens to you.”
    • “It’s not unusual to feel this way.”
  • Let him or her know depression is treatable.
  • Show interest and support.

Ask

  • Ask:
    • “Are you having suicidal thoughts?”
    • “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy.
  • Say things such as “You are too important to me. I can’t keep this a secret.”
  • Don’t worry about being disloyal to the individual.

Take Action

  • Get professional help for the person (here).
  • If the person is in crisis, don’t leave him or her alone.
  • If possible, remove potential weapons, drugs and alcohol. DO NOT put yourself in danger.
  • Tell the person that alternatives are available, but do not offer empty words of reassurance (“You’ll feel better in the morning”, etc.)
  • Don’t leave it up to them to get help by themselves. See that appointments for professional evaluation and treatment are made.
  • You can say things such as:
    • “Let’s go talk to someone who can help.”
    • “Go see someone for me; I don’t want to worry; I can’t leave here until I know you are safe.”

Remember that you can not:

  • Help this person all by yourself- get support
  • Act for the person
  • Control how the person feels
  • Make the person kill him/herself
  • Stop the suicide if the person is determined and has the means