People often ask me, what do they do if they suspect someone is thinking about suicide?

Answer: Ask.

Asking them if they are thinking about suicide will not make them do it. On the contrary. Asking them can do many of the following:

  • show them that you care;
  • provide relief that they now have someone to talk to about it; and
  • show them that they are not alone and that they have someone who will help them to get help;

IF they say yes, they are thinking about suicide but they don’t have a plan to follow through with it, and don’t want to do it, you don’t have to have the answers to all of their questions. Most often when this conversation comes up for the first time the person simply needs someone to listen and validate their feelings and help them to find the professional care they need.

IF they say yes, and have a plan and are going to follow through with it, you need to get them to the hospital safely. This may mean that you take them yourself or call 911 if necessary. They may not want to go, but this is a life or death situation and must be treated that way. If they get mad that you want them to go to the hospital, that’s ok. They are better mad than dead. Harsh? Maybe. True? Yes.

Talking about suicide may not be easy at first. But it’s often easier than you think. Be their safe person; ASK!