If you think someone is thinking about suicide

If someone you know is in crisis, being there and truly listening to them is a huge step toward helping them. Here are concrete steps you can take to make sure they get the help they need.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers the following advice:

If you think someone is thinking about suicide, assume you are the only one who will reach out. Here’s how to talk to someone who may be struggling with their mental health.

Have an honest conversation

1. Talk to them in private.

2. Listen to their story.

3. Tell them you care about them.

4. Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide.

5. Encourage them to seek treatment or contact their doctor or therapist.

6. Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice.

Assume you’re the only one who will reach out

If you’re concerned about someone, talk in private.

Listen to their story, and let them know you care. Ask directly about suicide, calmly and without judgement. Show understanding and take their concerns seriously. Let them know their life matters to you. That one conversation could save a life.

If a person says they are thinking about suicide, take them seriously.

Someone considering suicide is experiencing a life-threatening health crisis and may not believe they can be helped. Work with them to keep them safely away from lethal means like firearms and drugs and remind them that their suffering is temporary.

Stay with them and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988.

Be sure to follow up with them after the crisis to see how they’re doing.


Don’t wait for someone to reach out.

Seek mental health treatment, or tell your clinician about your suicidal thinking.

Treat yourself like you would treat someone else who needs your help.

If a person says they are considering suicide

Take them seriously.

• Stay with them.

• Help them remove lethal means.

• Call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline988 to talk or text with a trained crisis counselor for free, 24/7.

• Escort them to mental health services or an emergency room.


Additional Resources from AFSP:


Teens and suicide: What parents should know

How to Start (and Continue) a Conversation About Mental Health

If Someone Tells You They’re Thinking About Suicide

If you are having thoughts of suicide, text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

You might be interested in other articles in News and Research.

Published by Tim Rowden

The Grief Project is dedicated to sharing the stories of suicide loss survivors as well as information and research on suicide, mental health, advocacy and prevention. I’m a suicide loss survivor, husband, father, writer and journalist, with 33 years experience as a reporter and editor. I believe sharing our stories can help help others who are struggling, whether they are loss survivors or struggling with depression or other mental health issues. We honor them and honor our loved ones by sharing our stories.

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