Suicide is a subject that makes us uncomfortable and many of us are afraid to talk about it. However, when you suspect a friend or loved one might be thinking about killing themselves and ask them about suicide and/or they tell you that they are experiencing thoughts of suicide, you now have the opportunity to help them feel less alone, and even hopeful. There is help for the person thinking about dying by suicide. Here is a simple plan of action if you are worried about someone:
It is safe to ask someone if they are thinking about suicide. Sometimes we are afraid we will give someone the idea to kill themselves if we ask them about suicide, but this belief is not true. Talking about suicide and thoughts of killing themselves can actually make people feel better and cared about. The easiest way to do so is to use a format that makes you feel comfortable and also helps the person feel comfortable telling you the truth.
Example: You look really down today and a lot of people who are feeling sad and depressed think about killing themselves. Are you thinking about suicide?
Ask the person what they feel needs to change or happen today in order to stay safe from making a suicide attempt. Help them plan out what this looks like, what to do, and how to restrict the means (anything that could be used to kill themselves in a suicide attempt). Offer to call the crisis line with the person or help them chat with an online counselor. Don’t leave the person alone until there is a good plan in place and the person knows what to do to continue to be safe if their feelings and thoughts around dying don’t get better or become stronger.
An excellent way to get help is to ask the person if you can call the crisis line or start a live chat with them. Offering to do this with helps them feel it is possible to get help and makes it easier if they are depressed or anxious. Involve a trusted person in the community (parent, medical doctor, therapist, school counselor, minister, significant other, friends, etc.) who can help support the person at risk and who can share in keeping your friend or loved one safe. In an emergency situation, 911 is the best resource.