Suicidal behavior needs to be taken seriously, and you should not attempt to provide help for a person’s suicidal thoughts or behavior by yourself. A suicidal person requires professional medical care, including help for depression or other underlying causes of suicidal thoughts. Help can include offering the suicidal person a chance to talk about his or her feelings.
Help for Suicidal People: Questions to Ask
Many people fear that talking to suicidal people about suicide increases the risk that they will go through with the act. This simply isn’t so. Talking about suicide with someone who needs help for depression or other mental health issues is not going to encourage him to commit suicide. Help for a suicidal person is important, as he is already considering the idea of ending his life.
In fact, people exhibiting suicidal behavior often find it comforting to talk about their suicidal thoughts. Be forthright with the person; express that you are concerned and want to know how she is doing.
Help should be offered without judgment. Don’t suggest that “things could be worse,” try to talk the person into a better mood, or attempt to debate whether or not suicide is right or wrong. Provide a sympathetic ear, and offer to help the person seek help for suicidal behavior. Never promise to keep someone’s suicidal thoughts a secret. Such promises might need to be broken, which could decrease a suicidal person’s willingness to confide in you.
Questions to ask a person who might be suicidal include:
- Are you having suicidal thoughts or are you thinking of dying?
- Do you feel hopeless?
- Do you have a suicide plan?
- Do you have the means to commit suicide?
- Do you know when you would commit suicide?
- Have you tried to hurt or kill yourself? If so, how?
Emergency Responses to Suicide
If an individual has a suicide plan, has the means to commit suicide and has set a time to kill himself, he needs immediate medical attention. Take the following steps as soon as possible:
- Do not leave the suicidal person alone.
- Keep the individual away from anything that could be used to commit suicide, including knives, razors, medication and firearms.
- Call 911.
Help For Depression
Not all people who are depressed commit suicide, nor are all suicidal people depressed. However, a significant number of people who are depressed are also suicidal. In such cases, help for depression is vital to overcome suicidal behavior.
Depression symptoms often leave people with little energy or motivation to seek help. A person with depression may need someone to take the initiative in seeking help for depression, especially if she is suicidal.
Always take suicidal behavior and suicide threats seriously, even if the individual appears to be joking. The stakes are too high to ignore the possibility that a person may be suicidal.
Healthy Place. (2008). Understanding and helping the suicidal person. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from the Healthy Place website: www.healthyplace.com/depression/suicide/understanding-and-helping-the-suicidal-person/menu-id-68/.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Suicide: What to do when someone is suicidal. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: www.mayoclinic.com/health/suicide/MH00058.
National Alliance on Mental Illness Staff. (n.d.). Suicide: Learn more, learn to help. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from the National Alliance on Mental Illness website: www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Suicide_-_Learn_more,_learn_to_help.htm.