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How to Help a Suicidal Person

How You Can Help

  • Remove or arrange to remove firearms or unnecessary medicines from the home. Firearms should be taken elsewhere, even when locked and unloaded.
  • Trust your suspicions, take the threat seriously and express your concern. Let them know what they mean to you and that they are not alone. 
  • Be honest. If you are worried about a teen, say so. Trust your suspicions and gently ask direct questions about whether the youth is depressed or thinking about suicide. You won't "give them the idea" of suicide just by asking honest questions. The more detailed the plan, especially with available and lethal means, the greater the immediate risk.
  • Try to determine whether the person has a suicide plan. The more detailed the plan, especially with available and lethal means, the greater the risk.
  • Help the youth recall how he or she coped in other crises. This is more effective than pat reassurances.  
  • Encourage the person to seek help and talk to someone who is trained to help with emotional problems. Call a suicide prevention center like Foundation 2 Crisis Center or talk to a physician, teacher, counselor, school nurse, clergy or trained mental health professional.
  • Arrange and get a promise with the person to stay in contact. Offer yourself until other assistance has been obtained.
  • Be a listener, not a "fixer."  
  • Help the person explore and express feelings.  
  • Gently ask direct questions about the person's intentions.
  • Communicate your concern for their well-being.
  • Show your support verbally and non-verbally.
  • Talk to the youth and really LISTEN. 

What NOT To Do

  • Do not minimize or ignore statements about wanting to die.
  • Do not be judgmental, debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or increase guilt.
  • Do not swear secrecy to the suicidal person.
  • Do not tell the person to "go ahead and do it."
  • Do not say "everything will be all right" or use cliches like "pull yourself together."
  • Do not tell them about someone who has it worse.
  • Do not delay dealing with the situation. Don't leave the person alone if you feel the risk of suicide is immediate. Call a crisis hotline.

What Professional Help Can Offer

  • An objective, caring listener who can share other more hopeful sides of the picture.
  • Help in determining what needs to be changed, finding solutions that aren't as permanent as suicide.
  • Help to identify the resources needed for these changes.
  • Medication for depression when appropriate.
  • Hospitalization - a safe place to regain energy and work on problems.

Contact Foundation 2 Crisis Center

1540 2nd Ave. SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa