If You Are Concerned About Someone's Risk of Suicide
What To Listen For
What To Watch For
|Talking about wanting to die||Increased use of alcohol or drugs|
|Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose||Acting anxious, hopeless, agitated, or recklessly|
|Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose||Sleeping too little or too much|
|Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain||Withdrawing or feeling isolated|
|Talking about being a burden to others||Showing rage or talking about revenge|
|Talking about social withdrawal or isolation||Displaying extreme mood swings|
|Talking about revenge||Poor hygiene|
All communication about suicide should be taken seriously and addressed immediately. The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk.
Listen for risk factors. If someone seems to be depressed or appears to be struggling with a mental health condition, listening for expressions of hopelessness, feeling like a burden, feeling trapped, or other risk factors mentioned above can often alert you to their distress, even if they don’t explicitly say that they are thinking about suicide.
Listen for barriers. Often people who are experiencing thoughts of suicide will already have thought about other ways of escaping the pain that they are in, but have determined that other options (beyond suicide) will not work. Depression causes people to feel hopeless, and barriers to getting help may seem insurmountable to someone who is depressed.
Listen to demonstrate concern and understanding. One of the best ways to help someone who may be thinking about suicide is to let them know that you care, that you understand that they are in pain, and that you want to help them get the treatment that they need.
Offer Hope and Direction
- Encourage someone who is experiencing thoughts of suicide to get help.
- If you are worried about their immediate safety do not leave the person alone. Call 911.
- If you are not worried about their immediate safety, get support. Help them to connect with suicide prevention resources or mental health treatment providers. Offer to call on their behalf or accompany them to their first appointment.
- If they are having thoughts of suicide and are not open to help, get help on their behalf.
How Not to Respond
- Avoid shaming, becoming angry, dismissing, or ignoring.
- Do not take it upon yourself to solve all of their problems.