Know The Signs
Increased alcohol or drug use
"We used to get together for a beer once a week, then I found out he'd been driving home drunk every night, and I realized it wasn't just the alcohol that was the problem. He was trying to hurt himself."
They increase use of alcohol or drugs.
Talking about wanting to die or suicide
"My friend used to say things like 'I just can't take it anymore, I just want to end it all."
Their statements might be subtle or vague.
"I'm going to kill myself."
They may be direct and literally say they are going to kill themselves.
Thoughts may be reflected in something written or drawn.
"My husband used to be so calm, but he began to get so angry all the time. He never used to have a temper."
They express or act in ways that reflect hostility, bitterness, or resentment or rage. They talk about seeking revenge.
Putting affairs in order
They rush to complete or revise a will.
Giving away possessions:
"He kept showing me things around his apartment when I came over, like where he kept his keys, money, important papers, and even his will. But he was only 28 years old. When I questioned him, he said 'I'm telling you just in case I'm not here anymore."
They give away prized or favorite possessions.
Anxiety or agitation
"My girlfriend used to be so happy-go-lucky but now she gets anxious over even small things. She always seems to be near panic."
They appear nervous, shaken or worried.
Sudden mood changes
They are uncharacteristically sad or depressed or are unusually happy or content after a period of significant depression.
"For ten seasons, my coworker and I played on a baseball team together every Sunday. At first he started coming late, then skipped a game or two. When he did show up for a game, he wasn't very energetic or talkative. Then he stopped showing up altogether. When we saw each other at work, he would just nod and walk by."
They stop talking to and doing things with others or stop doing activities they once enjoyed. They feel isolated.
Talking about being a burden to others
"I think they’d be better off without me."
Talking about being a burden to others. Views that one’s existence burdens family, friends and/or society.
If any of these signs are present, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Talking about death or suicide
- Seeking methods for self harm, such as searching online or obtaining a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
Listen, express concern, reassure
"I can imagine how tough this must be for you. I understand when you say that you aren't sure if you want to live or die. But have you always wanted to die? Well, maybe there's a chance you won't feel this way forever. I can help"
Listen to the reasons the person has for both living and dying. Validate that they are considering both options and underscore that living is an option for them.
"I'm deeply concerned about you and I want you to know that help is available to get you through this."
Let the person know you care. Letting them know that you take their situation seriously, and you are genuinely concerned about them, will go a long way in your effort to support them.
Create a safety plan
"Do you have any weapons or prescription medications in the house?"
Ask the person if they have access to any lethal means (weapons, medications, etc) and help remove them from the vicinity. (Another friend, family member or law enforcement agent may be needed to assist with this.)
Do not put yourself in danger; if you are concerned about your own safety, call 911.
"Is there someone you can call if you think you may act on your thoughts of suicide?"
Create a safety plan together. Ask the person what will help keep them safe until they meet with a professional.
"Will you promise me that you will not drink or at least have someone monitor your drinking until we can get you help?"
Ask the person if they will refrain from using alcohol and other drugs or agree to have someone monitor their use.
"Please promise me that you will not harm yourself or act on any thoughts of suicide until you meet with a professional."
Get a verbal commitment that the person will not act upon thoughts of suicide until they have met with a professional.
Created with images by Fa Barboza - "untitled image" • Claudia Wolff - "I received a call from the school nurse, who put my son on the line. My son told me he was very sad and was feeling depressed. I immediately went to my son’s school to pick him up. Before we left, we met with one of the administrators, who helped my son feel a little better. The whole afternoon I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad my son was when I arrived at the school. A few hours later, when I went upstairs for some quiet time, it hit me that my son may be depressed…just like me. What I love about this image is the raw emotion that shows just how hard parenting can be sometimes." • Blake Connally - "Man leaning head on wall"