What To Do

Get Help. You don’t have to be the sole person involved in helping. Find additional support. For more assistance, call the Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).

• Begin a dialogue by asking questions. Suicidal thoughts are common with depressive illnesses and your willingness to talk about it in a nonjudgmental way can be the push a person needs to get help.

Questions to ask:
• “Do you ever feel so badly that you think of suicide?”
• “Do you have a plan?”
• “Do you know when you would do it (today, next week)?”
• “Do you have access to what you would use?”

Asking these questions will allow you to determine if your friend is in immediate danger, and get help if needed. A suicidal person should see a doctor or psychiatrist immediately. Calling 911 or going to a hospital emergency room are valid options.

Always take thoughts of or plans for suicide seriously.
• Never keep a plan for suicide a secret. Don’t worry about endangering a friendship if you truly feel a life is in danger. It’s better to regret something you did, than something you didn’t do to help a friend.
• Don’t try to minimize problems or shame a person into changing her mind. Your opinion of a person’s situation is irrelevant. Trying to convince a person it’s not that bad, or that she has everything to live for will only increase her feelings of guilt and hopelessness. Reassure her help is available, that depression is treatable, and that suicidal feelings are temporary.
• If you feel the person isn’t in immediate danger, acknowledge the pain as legitimate and offer to work together to get help. Make sure you follow through. This is one instance where you must be tenacious in your follow-up. Help find a doctor or a mental health professional, participate in making the first phone call, or go along to the first appointment. If you’re in a position to help, don’t assume that your persistence is unwanted or intrusive. Risking your feelings to help save a life is a risk worth taking.