Suicidal Thoughts: Helping a Friend

Call 911

If you think that a friend or loved one might be suicidal, you need to take action. Always take suicidal threats seriously.

Signs that a person is at risk of committing suicide include:

  • Extreme hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Talking a lot about death or suicide
  • Trying to get access to pills, firearms, or other possible means of suicide
  • Reckless behavior
  • Giving away belongings or saying goodbye

If you think your friend is at risk, here's what you can do.

1. Talk to Your Friend

  • Ask your friend if he or she is thinking about suicide. Be direct. Contrary to what you might assume, you can't make someone suicidal by asking about it.
  • Try to stay supportive and not judgmental.
  • Ask your friend if he or she has a specific plan in mind. When people have settled on a specific means of committing suicide, they're at higher risk.

2. Get Help

  • If you think your friend is in danger, stay with him or her if you can. Don'tleave a suicidal person alone.
  • Call 911, take the person to an emergency room, or contact a crisis hotline like 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Get support from other friends and family members, even if your friend asks you not to. It's too serious to keep secret -- and you can't keep your friend safe all on your own.
  • If your friend has been seeing a mental health professional (therapist, counselor, psychologist, social worker, or psychiatrist), call them and make them aware of the situation.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on January 16, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

National Mental Health Information Center: "Suicide Warning Signs."

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: "Understanding Suicidal Thinking."

CDC: "Preventing Suicide."

Suicidal Thoughts Information from eMedicineHealth.

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