If someone is threatening to end their life, if someone has let you know they are close to acting on a suicidal impulse, or if you strongly believe someone is close to a suicidal act, you can help.
Consider these tips for helping someone in a mental health crisis
- taking the person seriously, stay calm but take action;
- involve other people, don’t try to handle the crisis alone or jeopardize your own health or safety, call 911 if necessary, contact the individual’s doctor, the police, a crisis intervention team, or others who are trained to help;
- express concern and give concrete examples of what leads you to believe the person is close to suicide;
- listen attentively, maintain eye contact, use open, supportive body language;
- ask direct questions, find out if the person has a specific plan for suicide, determine, if you can, what method of suicide they are considering;
- acknowledge the person’s feelings, be understanding—not judgmental or argumentative, do not relieve the person of responsibility for their actions;
- offer reassurance, stress that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, remind the person that there is help and things will get better;
- don’t promise confidentiality, you may need to speak to the person’s doctor in order to protect the person from themselves;
- make sure weapons, old medications and other potentially harmful items are not available; and
- if possible, don’t leave the person alone until you’re sure they are in the hands of competent professionals, if you have to leave, make sure another friend or family member can stay with the person until professional help is available.