How to Help Someone Who Might Be Thinking About Suicide

Myth: Talking about suicide can encourage it.
Fact: Talking openly about suicide can reduce stigma and help prevent it.
If you're concerned about someone who might be contemplating suicide, there are effective ways to offer support. Here's what you can do:
1. Start a Conversation: Don't hesitate to ask the person directly if they're thinking about harming themselves or have suicidal thoughts. It's important to overcome your own discomfort and ask the necessary questions.
2. Open Communication: Promise to keep their safety a priority, but don't promise to keep their thoughts a secret. Listening actively without trying to immediately cheer them up is crucial.
3. Avoid Judgment: Stay non-judgmental and avoid analyzing or moralizing their thoughts and feelings.
4. Don't Settle for "I'm Okay": When they say they're okay, dig deeper. Inquire about their plans, means, or intentions related to acting on their thoughts.
5. Seek Professional Help: If you believe there's an immediate risk of suicide, call 988, the suicide prevention line (1-800-273-8255), or 911 for assistance.

Recognize the Warning Signs

Certain behaviors may signal a risk, especially if related to recent loss, significant changes, or a painful event in a person’s life. Watch out for:
  • Withdrawing from normal activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Increased Aggression
  • Fatigue
  • Visiting or calling loved ones to say good-bye
  • Giving away prized personal possessions
  • Looking for ways to end their lives (internet searches, social media sites)

People considering suicide may display one or more of following moods:

  • Depression/anxiety
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation or shame
  • Agitation/anger
  • Relief/ sudden improvement

What groups are at high risk for suicide?

Remember, offering your support, empathy, and a non-judgmental ear can make a significant difference in someone's life. If you're unsure about what to do, reach out to professionals who can provide guidance and assistance.
*The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional medical, psychological, or therapeutic advice. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment, or guidance. Always seek the advice of a qualified mental health provider or medical professional with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or may be experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact a mental health crisis line, a medical professional, or emergency services immediately. Do not rely solely on the information in this article in such situations.

Posted: 9/9/2023 by Teressa Maynard, MSW at Doorway of Greater Nashua