If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you know, follow these steps to help keep them safe and supported.
Ask directly, “are you thinking about suicide?”
- Tell the person thinking about suicide that you are open to speaking about the topic.
- You may be the first person who has signaled it is okay.
- The question opens the door to an honest and non-judgmental dialogue which can
- relieve some of the pain the person is experiencing.
- Asking does not increase the person’s risk—you will not be giving them a new idea.
- Asking opens the door for the next step which is to LISTEN. Take the person seriously.
- Let them tell about the reasons for their emotional pain.
Keep Them safe. Establish immediate safety
- Have they already done something to try to kill themselves?
- Do they know how they would kill themselves?
- How prepared are they to complete their plan?
- How soon were they thinking of carrying out their plan?
- Do they have access to firearms?
- Put TIME and DISTANCE between the person and their chosen method.
Bet There. Show your support
- Check-in: in-person or by phone
- Do what you said you would do for the person, but do not make promises you cannot or are not willing to keep
- Listen, don’t lecture
- Use phrases like, “I’m so happy you’re sharing this with me.”
Help them connect. Call the Lifeline together, 1-800-273-8255
- On-going support is essential
- Lifeline, community mental health providers, United Way 211 for resources
- My3 App for safety planning
Follow up. See how they’re doing.
- Phone, text, email—it doesn’t matter how! It just matters the person knows you still care!
- Great way to see if they have connected to the resources you already talked about
If you need support during or after for yourself, your call is also free and confidential.