When someone exhibits suicidal behavior, you may not know what to do. Learn the warning signs, what questions to ask, and how to get help
When someone says they are thinking about suicide, or say things that sound like the person is thinking about suicide, it can be very upsetting. You may not be sure what to do to help, whether you need to talk suicide seriously, or if your own intervention could make the situation worse. Taking action is always the best option. Here's what to do
Start with questions
The first step is to find out if the person is at risk of acting out with suicidal feelings. Be sensitive, but ask direct questions, such as:
• How do you cope with what is happening in your life?
• Do you sometimes feel like giving up?
• Are you thinking of death?
• Are you thinking of harming yourself?
• Are you thinking of suicide?
• Have you ever contemplated suicide or tried to harm yourself?
• Have you thought about how or when to do this?
• Do you have access to weapons or items that can be used as weapons to harm yourself?
Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings will not trigger a self-injurious act. In fact, providing an opportunity to talk about feelings may reduce the risk of acting out with suicidal feelings.
Get urgent help
If someone attempts suicide:
● Never leave the person alone.
● Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
● Or, if you think you can safely take this person to the nearest hospital equipped with an emergency room, do so.
● Try to find out if the person has been under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or has taken an overdose.
● Feel free to quickly tell a family member or friend of the person what's going on.
● If you see a friend or loved one talking or acting in a way that makes you think he might be trying to commit suicide, don't try to handle the situation on your own.