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    Helping Someone Who Is Suicidal

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    Jul.13.2022
    Helping Someone Who Is Suicidal

    Helping Someone Who Is Suicidal

    Suicide is the act of ending, or taking, one's own life. Someone who is thinking about suicide needs help right away. Listen to the person. Even if you do not know what to say or do to help, you can start by letting the person know that you care.

    Talk to the person about how to get help. Help is available through suicide hotlines and through therapy and other treatments.

    What are the risk factors for suicide?

    Risk factors for suicide include:
    • Having a friend or family member who has died by suicide.
    • A history of attempted suicide.
    • Depression or other mental health problems.
    • Being exposed to graphic stories of suicide in the media.
    • Alcohol or drug misuse, especially when combined with a mental illness.
    • A serious physical problem, such as long-term (chronic) pain.
    • Stressful life events, now or in the past. These may include:
      • Divorce or social rejection.
      • Childhood abuse or neglect.
      • Sudden life changes, such as a financial crisis or going to jail.

    What are warning signs to watch for?

    Most people who are thinking about suicide show warning signs. Signs may include:
    • Expressing thoughts about, or a preoccupation with, ending one's own life.
    • Making threats or comments about ending one's own life.
    • Withdrawing from normal activities or avoiding friends, family, coworkers, or classmates.
    • Dramatic mood swings.
    • Impulsive or reckless behavior.
    • An increase in drug or alcohol use.

    Follow these instructions at home:

    Seated adult talking to a seated teenager. Adult is writing on paper.

    If you think someone may be thinking about or planning suicide:
    • Ask the person directly whether he or she is thinking about suicide or about hurting himself or herself.
      • Asking about thoughts of suicide or self-harm does not make someone more likely to attempt suicide.
    • Avoid giving advice or arguing with the person about the value of his or her life.

    If a person confides in you that he or she is considering suicide:
    • Take the person seriously. Do not ever ignore comments about suicide.
    • Listen to the person's thoughts and concerns with compassion.
    • Let the person know that you will stay with him or her.
    • Offer to help the person get to a mental health professional or other health care provider.
    • Remove all weapons and medicines from the person's living area.
    • Do not promise to keep the person's thoughts of suicide a secret.
    • Contact a suicide crisis helpline, such as:
      • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 988 in the U.S.
      • The Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

    Get help right away if:

    You ever feel like someone may hurt himself or herself or others, or if he or she shares thoughts about taking his or her own life. You can go to your nearest emergency department or:
    • Call a crisis center or a local suicide prevention center. These are often located at hospitals, clinics, community service organizations, social service providers, or health departments.
    • Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.).
    • Call a suicide crisis helpline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 988 in the U.S. This is open 24 hours a day in the U.S.
    • Text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 (in the U.S.).
    • Call the United Way's health and human services helpline (211 in the U.S.).

    Summary

    • Suicide is the act of ending, or taking, one's own life.
    • Suicide can be prevented by knowing the risk factors and the signs, and by taking action.
    • If you know someone who has or is showing any risk factors for suicide, ask if he or she is thinking about hurting himself or herself. Take all concerns about suicide seriously, and get support from experts in mental illness or suicide.
    • Get help right away if you believe that a person may hurt himself or herself or others, or may be having thoughts of taking his or her own life.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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