Suicidal Thoughts: Helping a Friend

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on March 10, 2024
2 min read

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
  • Not sleeping, seeming irritable or troubled
  • Using more alcohol and drugs than usual

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

  • Ask your friend if they are 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 they have a specific plan in mind. When people have settled on a specific means of committing suicide, they're at higher risk.
  • If you think your friend is in danger, stay with them if you can. Do not leave a suicidal person alone.
  • Call 911, take the person to an emergency room, or the Suicide and Crisis hotline at 988.
  • 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.