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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.
Be 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: 1-800-273-8255
- On-going support is essential
- Lifeline, community mental health providers, United Way 211 for resources
- Download the My3 App for safety planning
Follow Up: See how they’re doing in the days/weeks/months following
- 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
Download a foldable resource card