The most important thing you can do if you think someone might want to commit suicide is to take that person very seriously if they attempt to talk to you about it.
Keep in mind that not everyone who feels suicidal will talk about it. In this case, know the warning signs.
S.A.V.E.: Helping Someone Who You Think Might Be Suicidal
Share – Your concerns with the person and with others who can help.
Act – Get immediate help including 911, stay with the person at all times.
Validate – Remind the person there is help and that you are there for him/her.
Encourage – Continue to be there for the person and support in his/her recovery efforts. This doesn’t mean to manage them or their recovery, just send a text, call, be a friend to them or otherwise stay in touch in a supportive way.
Share – Ask, Listen, Tell
Ask the person if he/she is considering suicide and if he/she has a particular plan in place.
Let the person know that you care about him/her.
Tell the person what he/she said or did that makes you feel concerned about the possibility of suicide.
Ask if the person is on medications or if he/she is seeing a professional and ask if you can contact that professional.
Tell others so they are aware and can also help. This includes friends/family members, professionals, teachers, and anyone else that you believe will help the person who you believe might be suicidal. (An angry friend or loved one is better than a dead one, so don’t be afraid to make the person angry if you feel it will help save his/her life).
If the person is threatening, talking about, or making specific plans for suicide, this is a crisis requiring immediate attention.
Get professional support, including:
- Calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Taking the person to the hospital or walk in clinic
- Calling 911
Remove any sharp objects, firearms, drugs, or objects that could be used for suicide.
Do not leave the person alone.
Assure the person that you will be there for him/her.
Use compassionate and comforting words and actions to let the person know that his/her feelings are important. Saying things such as “I am here for you”, “I hear you are feeling depressed/sad/hopeless and I care about you.” Let’s the other person know that his/her feelings are valued.
Avoid arguing at all costs and refrain from making statements such as “Your suicide will make other people feel so sad”, or “You have so much to live for”. Instead, continue to assure that you care, are will do everything you can to be there for him/her.
The person may not believe there is help. Continue to assure (without arguing) that there is help and that you will be there for the person while he/she gets it.
Even after the person has reached out for help, your encouragement and support is still needed until they are feeling better and stronger. Stay in close contact with the person by calling, texting and spending positive time together.
Watch for side effects if medications are given and notify others, including the person’s professional help if you notice the suicidal person seems to be getting worse.
Remind the person it takes time to start feeling better and to find the right kind of professional help or recovery plan, and that you will continue to be there for him/her.
According to the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education the symptoms and danger signs of suicide are:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
Additional Warning Signs of Suicide:
- Preoccupation with death.
- Suddenly happier, calmer.
- Loss of interest in things one cares about.
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
- Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
- Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
* Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change.
Suicidal is preventable. Learn the warning signs, use S.A.V.E. if you believe someone is at risk.
Other Prevention Factors:
- Getting effective mental health care
- Positive relationships that foster resilience and offer compassion, comfort, assurance and acceptance
- Learning effective coping skills