How to Help When You Think Someone is Suicidal

What are some of the warning signs associated with suicidal behavior?

  • Expression of direct intentions (I feel like killing myself)
  • Hints (“Lately I’ve been driving my car like I really don’t care what happens”, “Others would be better off without me”)
  • Statements expressing extreme loneliness or hopelessness
  • Giving away possessions
  • Putting affairs in order
  • Withdrawal from others, change in eating or sleeping patterns, loss of interest. A sudden intense lift in spirits may also be a danger signal (relief)
  • Decreased care for self (hygiene)
  • Intense depression

How can I help someone who is suicidal?

  • Take every suicidal threat or gesture seriously.
  • Remain calm. Be available to talk or listen. Give understanding and active emotional support for the person’s feelings.
  • Deal directly with the topic of suicide. Don’t be afraid to ask or talk directly about suicide.
  • Encourage problem solving and positive actions.
  • Get assistance. Seek out resources that can lend qualified help; even if it means breaking confidence. Let the person know that you are concerned and that you want to arrange for help beyond that which you can offer. Encourage the person to get professional help.
  • If you fear that the person is in immediate danger, escort them to the Emergency Room. If this is not possible, call 911.
  • Take care of yourself and get support.

What services are available?