How to Help

If you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving the individual the opportunity to express his or her feelings may prevent a suicide attempt. The person may even be relieved that you brought up the issue. Remember to take all suicide threats seriously. It is important to listen and express concern in a nonjudgmental way and to take action! Get the individual connected with professional help. And remember to show that you care.

Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Have you ever thought that you’d be better off dead or that if you died, it wouldn’t matter?
  • Have you thought about harming yourself?
  • Are you thinking about suicide?
  • Do you have a suicide plan?
  • Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)?
  • Do you know when you would do it?
  • Do you intend to commit suicide?

If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it’s important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for committing suicide in the near future have a specific suicide plan, the means to carry out the plan, a time schedule for doing it, and an intention to do it.

  • Listen without judgment. Let a suicidal person express his or her feelings and accept those feelings without judging or discounting them. Don’t act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.
  • Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Don’t dismiss the pain he or she feels, but talk about the alternatives to suicide and let the person know that his or her life is important to you.
  • Don’t promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.
  • Get professional help. Do everything in your power to get a suicidal person the help he or she needs. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor’s appointment.
  • Make a plan for life.Help the person develop a “Plan for Life,” a set of steps he or she promises to follow during a suicidal crisis. It should include contact numbers for the person’s doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency. Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

Also remember to:

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don’t dare him or her to do it.
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.

If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it’s important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for committing suicide in the near future have a specific suicide plan, the means to carry out the plan, a time schedule for doing it, and an intention to do it.

If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, dial 911, or take the person to an emergency room. Do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.

It’s also wise to remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity. In some cases, involuntary hospitalization may be necessary to keep the person safe and prevent a suicide attempt.

As you’re helping a suicidal person, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Find someone that you trust—a friend, family member, clergyman, or counselor—to talk to about your feelings and get support of your own.

What Not To Do

  • Do not keep it a secret
  • Do not sidestep the issue or treat it lightly.
  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Do not offer simple solutions.
  • Do not judge.
  • Do not offer or suggest drugs or alcohol.
  • Do not try to be a therapist. Get professional help.

Level of Suicide Risk

  • Low — Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
  • Moderate — Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn’t very lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
  • High — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
  • Severe — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will commit suicide.

Where to Get Help

There is additional in depth information available on our page about Where to Get Help. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 911. If you or someone you know is in crisis please call 1-800-273-TALK (8522)

Where to get help

  • 911
  • 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Counselor, other mental health provider.
  • Doctor

Eagle County Resources

Contact Us

The Suicide Prevention Coalition of the Eagle Valley

Monday - Friday 8am-5pm
Phone: 970-748-4410
E-Mail: info@speakupreachout.org