If you or someone you know is having thoughts about suicide, know that there is help available, right here, right now, by calling the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. All calls are confidential.
You can also text 988 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And the deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 711 and then 988.
In an emergency, dial 911.
Suicide: Warning signs, prevention, treatment – and hope.
Death by suicide is a tragic and growing problem. It affects people from all walks of life. Sadly, sometimes people don't want to talk about it or don't know how to talk about it. People who are contemplating suicide can feel ashamed or embarrassed, which prevents them from reaching out for help. In addition loved ones don't know how to help or what to say.
The following information may help you or a loved one learn more about suicide—risks, warning signs, and prevention.
Some risk factors for suicide include:
- Family history of suicide
- Past attempts
- Substance use
- Mental health conditions such as depression
- A significant life event such as loss of a job or loved one, end of a relationship, or financial problems
- A chronic medical condition
Warning signs may include:
- Thinking about and talking about death or suicide
- Drastic changes in behavior
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Talking about feeling unworthy, helpless, or hopeless or that they'd be better off dead
What you can do. And what you shouldn't do:
If you think someone might be suicidal—or if they've told you they are—there are a few steps you can take that may help. There are also some things you shouldn't say or do.
- Take the person seriously and stay calm. Asking questions and talking openly won't raise the risk that they'll carry through.
- Let them know how much you care. Ask them about their thoughts and feelings, and listen attentively.
- Help keep them safe by removing things they might use to harm themselves: guns, pills, knives, etc.
- Encourage them to get help. Offer specific steps they can take, such as calling the National Suicide Prevention line, helping them get to a mental health professional, or connecting them with loved ones.
- Accept the person's feelings. You can't talk them out of what they're going through.
- Help the person find resources, and reach out for help yourself if they won't. Call 911 if you think the person is in immediate danger of suicide.
- Lecture or shame them.
- Minimize their despair or try to talk them out of their feelings.
- Make it be about you. “How could you do this to me?” is not helpful. This has nothing to do with you. It is their very personal struggle.
- Leave the person to fend for themselves.
- Keep it a secret, even if the person asks you not to tell.
- Try to handle it alone. This person needs immediate help from a professional.
For information about suicide support services available to you through your health plan, go here
- American Psychiatric Association. Suicide Prevention. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/suicide-prevention Opens in a new window Accessed 12/13/23
- American Psychological Association. Suicide warning signs. http://www.apa.org/topics/suicide/signs.aspx Opens in a new window Accessed 12/13/23
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/suicide Opens in a new window Accessed 12/13/23