How to help someone who is suicidal
Taken from the Samaritans in Boston
If you know someone who might be thinking about suicide, you can help them
first just by listening. Very often, people who think suicide is a choice
for them feel like they have no other options, like they have no control
over their lives, and that no one cares about them. Listening to someone
-show that you care
-give them a greater feeling of control
-help them feel connected to someone else
Here are some do's and don'ts for being a good listener:
-give the person all of your attention
-tell him or her that you care and that you are glad they are talking
-ask questions that help you to better understand how she or he is feeling
-try to solve the person's problems
-give advice that wasn't asked for
-say that the person's actions or feelings are wrong or unimportant
-tell the person about your own problems
Not sure if someone you know may be thinking about suicide?
for a list of warning signs.
Asking about suicide can be scary and hard, but it is very important.
It is the only way to find out how much danger someone is in. It also
lets the person you're concerned about know that you're a safe person
to talk to. Many people are afraid to talk about suicide. They fear that
others will react with blame, fear, panic, or guilt. But it is often a
great relief to someone thinking about suicide to know that you have noticed
their pain. And although many people don't believe this, asking about
suicide will NOT suggest the idea to someone or encourage someone to kill
After you have listened for a while, ask the person you're concerned
about if she or he is thinking about suicide. Here's how to ask:
Ask the question directly.
"Do you sometimes feel so bad that you think of suicide?"
"It sounds like things are pretty rough right now, and I'm concerned
about you. Are you thinking about killing yourself?"
If the answer is "yes":
Stay calm. Even if this makes you feel scared or mad, don't let it show.
Keep listening and letting the person know that you care.
Ask her or him:
"Have you thought about how you might do it?" (Is there a plan?)
"Do you already have that? Can you get it?" (Are the means (gun,
"Have you decided when you will do this? Do you know where?"
(Has a time and place been set?)
If the answer to all of these questions is "Yes", there is
a good chance the person will attempt suicide. But even if there is no
plan, get help.
If the answer is "no":
Keep listening. Don't tell the person you're glad or relieved that they're
not thinking about it -their feelings may change, and then they will feel
uncomfortable talking to you.
Anyone can feel suicidal, but the feeling doesn't last forever. Getting
help for someone who is feeling suicidal can save their life. Never try
to help a suicidal person by yourself. Even if you are a professional
helper (doctor, counselor, etc.), don't go it alone. A suicidal person
needs a lot of attention and support - more than any one person can give.
The more helpers the better. Get help from:
a counselor or therapist
the local hospital emergency room
a guidance counselor
a nurse or doctor
The Samaritans, or your local crisis center
You should talk to any of these helpers yourself to get support and advice,
but it is most important that the suicidal person talks directly with
one or more of these kind of helpers. Some things to remember:
-If the first helper you try doesn't give you the help you need, try
-If the suicidal person won't agree to get help, tell someone anyway.
It is better to have she or he be mad at you, but alive because you got
If the person you're concerned about has already set a time and/or place
for a suicide attempt, or if you think for any reason that she or he wants
to attempt suicide soon, keep these tips in mind:
Stay calm. This can feel scary or out of control, but the person you're
helping feels more out of control than you do and needs you to be calm.
Don't leave the suicidal person. If you're not with them, go get them
or find someone who can stay with them. Most people won't attempt suicide
unless they're alone.
Call 999 or another professional who can help immediately. Remember: don't
leave the person to make this call.
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