If you believe that someone is suicidal or may cause harm to self or others, seek immediate help. There are several options for getting help, so choose the strategy that works best for you and your loved one.
- Call their mental health clinician and ask for an immediate response
- Take them to the closest hospital emergency department. Call ahead to ask if they have available clinicians or referrals to nearby crisis centers
- Call 9-1-1 or local psychiatric emergency services if available in your area
- Call or support your loved one to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)
- For crisis support via text message, text LISTEN to 741741
- Start an online chat with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- LGBTQ youth can get 24/7/365 support from The Trevor Project by chat, by calling 1-866-488-7386, and by texting START to 678678
- Trans people can get support from the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860
We urge you to stay with the person until they receive professional help and report feeling safe. If you are unable to remain with the person, find another trusted family member or friend who can provide in-person support.
Warning Signs of Suicide
- Talking about suicide
- Talking about hopelessness and worthlessness
- Talking about being a burden and that others would be better off without them
- Being preoccupied with death
- Suddenly being happier and calmer
- Making unusual visits or calling people they care about
- Making arrangements or putting their affairs in order
- Giving their things away
- Talking about specific ways of dying or killing themselves.
Helping Someone Who Is Suicidal
Ask if the person feels suicidal. You asking about suicide will not make them become suicidal and asking will not cause them to attempt suicide.
If you think someone is suicidal:
- Tell them you are concerned they may take their own life
- Ask them if they are going to kill themselves
- If yes, ask them if they have a plan (the more detailed the plan, the greater the likelihood that they will act on that plan)
- Get help immediately! Call a suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255), 9-1-1, or their mental health clinician. (See above for other options.)
- Do not leave the person alone.
- If possible, remove and secure items that may be used to attempt suicide (such as pills or poisons, firearms, etc.)
Ways to Help Prevent a Suicide
- Watch for suicidal behavior. Ask regularly if your loved one feels suicidal. Your question will not give the person the idea or cause the person to take his or her life. Other suicidal behaviors include
- Making verbal suicidal threats (“You’d be better off without me.”)
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Talking about death or having a preoccupation with death
- Engaging in risky behavior
- Giving away possessions
- Lacking interest in future plans
- Make your home safe. Remove all guns and weapons from the house, or at least lock them up. Approximately 57 percent of all suicides are completed using a firearm. In a home where there is a gun, it is five times more likely that someone living in that home will take his or her life compared to a home without a gun. Other potentially harmful items such as ropes, cords, sharp knives, alcohol and other drugs, medications, plastic bags, and poisons should also be removed.
- Watch for signs of drinking. If someone has depression, feels suicidal, and drinks a lot of alcohol, the person is more likely to take his or her life. If someone is drinking, you need to discuss this with their clinician.
- Develop a suicide emergency plan. Before a crisis arises (or after the crisis is averted), discuss who you will contact if the person feels suicidal. Discuss with the clinician what you should do and where you should take the person if he or she feels suicidal. The clinician will have specific recommendations. Put this plan in writing and revisit it occasionally.