What can I do to help a suicidal person?
Learn the warning signs and risk factors surrounding suicide
The more familiar you are with these issues, the better you can identify someone who may be depressed or suicidal.
Get comfortable discussing suicide, death, and guilt.
Honestly addressing your own feelings with these issues will help you talk with others without fear. If you are not comfortable talking about these topics, others will not be either.
When approaching someone who may be depressed or suicidal, be willing to listen.
Allow expression of all of their feelings like rage, sadness, crying, and loneliness. Try not to appear shocked at anything they tell you and be as non-judgmental as possible. Do not try and debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether their feelings are good or bad. Do not lecture them on the value of life. Listen as openly as possible to everything they are saying. Many times, they need someone to listen and hear their fears and thoughts out loud.
Never promise confidentiality.
You may not be able to keep that promise. If they ask you to, you can say, "I can try, but if I have to, I will tell someone. I care about you too much to not get help for you if I can. If I can find a way to help you feel better, I may have to tell someone what you told me. It's more important that you stay alive. You're just too important to me. Ok?"
Ask them directly if they have been thinking about suicide or homicide or harming themselves.
You can restate this depending on the age, such as: "Are you thinking you don't want to be here anymore? Are you thinking that it's too hard to stay alive anymore?" You want to find out:
- If they have been having suicidal thoughts.
- If they have a suicide plan - ask exactly what it is they intend to do.
- If there is any history of suicide attempts or rehearsing suicide
- If there are alcohol or drug abuse issues
- If they have been experiencing high anxiety, restlessness, problems sleeping and/or problems eating
- If they have access to fatal weapons (pills, guns, knives, razors, ropes or cords, etc.)
Never dare a person to attempt suicide.
Any person who expresses suicidal thoughts or feelings should be taken seriously. Let the person know that you are taking them seriously and that you plan to get help for them.
Stay with them.
Do not leave a suicidal person alone. Most suicides occur when people are alone. Be available and show interest and support for them.
Call for help.
Call 911 if there is ANY indication you / others may be in critical danger. Call others to be with you, so that you do not have to handle this alone. Call a doctor, nurse, family member, suicide prevention or crisis center for help. Below are some recommended contacts in Winnebago County:
Helpline: 920 233 7707
United Way Information and Referral: 211
National Crisis Lines
800 273 TALK (8255) Veterans Line, Press 1
If you believe this person is an immediate danger to him/herself or others please seek immediate help!