Choose to Help
How to help those that you are worried might be thinking about suicide.
You Are Not Alone!
When you notice the signs of suicide risk in someone close to you, ask the person directly whether they are having thoughts of suicide. Asking these questions will not put the idea of suicide in someone’s head; instead, it creates an opportunity for the person to share their struggle and get the help they need.
Start the Conversation
- Are you having thoughts of suicide?
- Are you thinking of killing yourself?
- Have you been thinking about ending your life?
How you ask can be as important as the words you use.
- Give the person your full attention and create time and space for their response
- Ask in a way that flows naturally with conversation if possible: “What you’re going through sounds really hard… Some people in your position have thoughts of suicide. Have you been thinking about ending your life?”
- Don’t ask in a manner that shows judgment or implies a correct answer: “You’re not thinking of killing yourself, are you?”
If the person says yes, stay with them and help to keep them safe while you seek professional help.
- Validate their feelings without trying to fix them:
- “I can’t imagine how you feel right now; it sounds scary. Thank you for sharing this with me.”
- “I get that you feel there’s no way out. I’m glad you told me so that we can work on this together.”
- Determine if the person can be safe and how to increase their immediate safety:
- If the person has immediate access to a firearm or other lethal means, seek immediate professional help
- If possible, remove any firearms and excess medications from the immediate area or move with the person to an environment free of those hazards
- Ask the person if they have a safety plan (see Safety Planning) and how you can help them use it
- Go with the person to access professional help
Develop a Safety Plan
When you or someone you care about is experiencing thoughts of suicide, the heightened emotions of the situation can make it difficult for even the most practiced individuals to remember what steps to take. By learning in advance how to keep yourself, your home and those around you suicide-safe, you can be more effective in times of crisis.