When someone comes to you for help about suicide don't panic because you CAN help.
What to Do
- Listen - Sometimes just having someone to listen to them helps a person with thoughts about suicide.
- Take it seriously - Always take what they are telling you seriously. What if something really does happen?
- Get help - Tell a responsible adult. This might be a teacher, guidance counselor or other school staff person, your parents, a friend's parents, an older brother or sister, someone at your church, or someone from the local youth center.
- Get more help - If this adult doesn't take you or your friend's problem seriously, or doesn't know what to do, find someone else. If you need help finding someone who can help, call (800) 273-TALK (8255).
- Be persistent - Ask the person if they are thinking about killing themselves- be direct. Talking about suicide or suicidal thoughts will NOT push someone to kill himself or herself. It is also not true that people who talk about killing themselves will not actually try it. If a friend says that he or she is thinking about suicide, take them seriously.
- Show you care - Just talking to them can make a difference. Teens will often talk with other teens rather than adults. Tell them you don't want them to die.
- Be understanding, not judgmental - listen to their story, let them talk about their feelings.
- Find out if they have a plan - You should be especially concerned if a person tells you that they have made a detailed suicide plan or have a way of hurting themselves.
- Don't leave them alone - Try to talk them into going with you to talk to a responsible adult - or stay with them until an adult can come to you.
What NOT to do
- Don't promise to keep it a secret - sometimes people tell you about their suicidal thoughts and then ask you to keep it a secret. TELL SOMEONE.
- Don't be afraid of being wrong - It is hard to tell if someone is really thinking about suicide. Some of the warning signs for suicide could also be signs of drug or alcohol use, family problems, depression or another mental illness. People with these problems still need help - and you can help.
- Don't ignore it - if someone is asking for help, that means they need help
- Don't say "I know how you feel." You don't. Every situation is different. Listen to their story.
- Don't tell them to count their blessings - they may feel that you are ignoring their pain.
- Don't act shocked.
- Don't say "Just snap out of it" - they would if they could.
- Don't pretend you have all the answers - be honest.
- Don't dare the person to do it.
What if I am the one who needs help?
- If you are having problems and thinking of hurting yourself, tell someone.
- If you feel you can't talk to your parents, find someone else such as a relative, friend, teacher, school nurse, guidance counselor, or a friend's parents.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800)273-TALK (8255) and they will help you.
- Don't be ashamed or embarrassed. Many teens and adults have problems that they can't solve by themselves.
- Finding the courage to ask for help is the first step toward solving problems.