Preparing for a Crisis

If you need immediate help or if you are having thoughts of death or suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK or, if you need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room.

What if I am feeling suicidal?

Remember:

Suicidal thoughts are temporary. Suicide is permanent. Don't give in to suicidal thoughts—you can overcome them.

Your feelings of hopelessness are not the truth. When you feel this way, it's your illness talking—your mind is lying to you. Remind yourself that suicidal thoughts are not reality.

If you are thinking of suicide, it is important to recognize these thoughts for what they are: expressions of a treatable medical illness. They are not true and they are not your fault. Don't let fear, shame, or embarrassment stand in the way of communication with your physician, therapist, family, or friends; tell someone right away.

  • Tell a trusted family member, friend, or other support person, someone you can talk with honestly. Try not to be alone when you feel this way. This may mean sitting quietly with a family member or friend, going to a support group, or going to a hospital.
  • Get help. Tell your health care professional. Suicidal thinking can be treated. When suicidal thoughts occur, they are your signal that, more than ever, you need help from a professional.
  • Know that you can get through this. Promise yourself you will hold on for another day, hour, minute, or whatever you can manage.

If you are feeling out of control, it's important to seek help immediately—even if you are not having suicidal thoughts.

How can I be prepared for a crisis?

Often, crises happen without warning, and the best thing you can do to prepare yourself is to make a crisis plan for yourself, a friend, or a family member. This plan should be shared with everyone you choose. Briefly describe the kind of help you (or your loved one) would like to receive if you have severe depressive or manic symptoms.

Information to Include

  • Doctor(s)' name(s) and contact information
  • Contact information of support group and other trusted friends/family members
  • Other health problems and medications
  • Allergies to/intolerance of any medication
  • Insurance or Medicaid information and preferred treatment facilities
  • Things that might trigger an episode, such as life events, travel, physical illness, or work stress
  • Warning signs such as talking very fast, paranoia, lack of sleep, slowed down movement, excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Things people can say that are calming and reassuring
  • Things people should do in crisis such as take away car keys and lock up anything dangerous such as weapons and medications
  • Things emergency staff can do, such as explain things, talk slowly, observe personal space, or write things
  • Reasons life is worthwhile and recovery is important

How should I talk to a person in crisis?

  • Stay calm. Talk slowly and use reassuring tones.
  • Realize you may have trouble communicating with your loved one. Ask simple questions. Repeat them if necessary, using the same words each time.
  • Don't take your loved one's actions or hurtful words personally.
  • Say, "I'm here. I care. I want to help. How can I help you?"
  • Don't say, "Snap out of it," "Get over it," or "Stop acting crazy."
  • Don't handle the crisis alone. Call family, friends, neighbors, people from your place of worship, or people from a local support group to help you.
  • Don't threaten to call 911 unless you intend to. When you call 911, police and/or an ambulance are likely to come to your house. This may make your loved one more upset, so use 911 only when you or someone else is in immediate danger.