It is important to remember that talking about suicide will NOT push someone to suicide. More importantly, suicide is preventable and efforts to help another person are almost always met with agreement and relief. Your willingness to talk about mental health concerns and suicide with a friend, family member, roommate, colleague, or peer may be the first step in getting them help and preventing suicide. Below are tips for beginning a conversation if you see the warning signs for suicide.
How To Help
- Take it seriously
- Do not leave them alone
- Listen to the problem and give them your full attention
- Avoid rushing to judgment or using a confrontational tone
- Let the person know you are concerned and you care
- Don’t be afraid to ask whether they are considering suicide or have a plan in mind
- If the person is reluctant, it is okay to be persistent (remember, they may be used to keeping these thoughts and feelings a secret!)
- Acknowledge their current pain is legitimate
- Try to avoid minimizing the problem (e.g. convincing them things aren’t that bad)
- Avoid problem-solving and advice giving: it can leave them feeling misunderstood and more hopeless
- Help them remove lethal means like firearms and drugs
- Offer hope in any form: reassure them help is available and suicidal feelings are temporary
- Offer to escort them to an emergency room, counseling center, or psychiatrist
- Never keep a plan for suicide a secret
- Get others involved. Ask the individual who else might help.
- Have your resources handy
- Follow-up with the person
- Take care of yourself!