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How to Help a Suicidal Person

ACT: Ask, Care and Take Action

1. Ask - Are You Thinking of Killing Yourself?  

It is okay to ask.

  • "Do you ever feel so badly that you think about suicide?"
  • "Do you have a plan to commit suicide or take your life?"
  • "Have you thought about when you would do it (today, tomorrow, next week)?"
  • "Have you thought about what method you would use?"

Asking these questions will help you to determine if your friend or family member is in immediate danger and get help if needed. A suicidal person should see a doctor or mental health professional immediately. Calling 911 or going to a hospital emergency room are also good options to prevent a tragic suicide attempt or death. Calling the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 is also a resource for you or your loved ones. Remember, always take thoughts of or plans for suicide seriously.

Your willingness to talk about suicidal thoughts in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way can be the help a person needs in seeking professional help.

Never keep a plan for suicide a secret. Don't worry about risking a friendship if you truly feel a life is in danger. You have bigger things to worry about - someone's life might be in danger! It is better to lose a relationship from violating a confidence than it is to go to a funeral. And most of the time they will come back and thank you for saving their life.

2. Care - Listen With Compassion and Voice Your Concern.

  • Don't try to minimize problems or shame a person into changing their mind. Your opinion of a person's situation is irrelevant.
  • Do not attempt to argue someone out of suicide. Rather, let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone, that suicidal feelings are temporary and that depression can be treated.
  • Avoid the temptation to say, "You have so much to live for," or "Your suicide will hurt your family."
  • Reassure them that help is available, that depression is treatable, and that suicidal feelings are temporary. Life can get better!

3. Take Action - Seek Professional Help.

Professional help is available to all employees and their family members through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The toll free number is 1-800-755-7002. This phone is answered by mental health professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

All employees and their family members are eligible for up to 12 free face-to-face counseling sessions through EAP and services are completely confidential.

In an Acute Crisis:

  • If a friend or loved one is threatening, talking about or making plans for suicide, these are signs of an acute crisis.
  • Do no leave the person alone.
  • Remove from the vicinity any firearms, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used for suicide.
  • Take the person to an emergency room or walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital.
  • If a psychiatric facility is unavailable, go to your nearest hospital or clinic.
  • If the above options are unavailable, call 911 or the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.
Last Modified: May 05, 2023
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