How to Help Someone At-Risk of Suicide

If a person you know expresses a desire to end one’s life, it is important to take immediate action. Although it is natural to feel uneasy about which initial steps will be most beneficial, you need to take their feelings seriously. Understanding the warning signs ( can we make this a link to the Suicide and Self-Harm Blog?) may make you feel more equipped to handle tough situations.

Consider the following approaches and questions:

  • Let them know you are concerned and that you are there to help in any way possible
  • Ask if they are thinking about suicide and if they have made any specific plans
    • If so, check if they are able to carry out this plan. Do they have a time, place or method?
  • Remember, talking about suicide will not make them take action. Asking shows that you care and allows them to talk about their feelings and plans – oftentimes, the first step to getting help.
  • Tell them that there are options other than suicide
    • Encourage them to get professional help
    • Don’t assume they will get better without help or that they will seek help on their own
  • Don’t agree to keep their suicidal thoughts or plans a secret
  • Offer to make them an appointment with a healthcare professional and/or helpline for additional information  
  • Remove access to objects they could use to hurt themselves
  • Contact the psychiatric emergency team at your local hospital

For immediate help and intervention:

  • Never leave the person alone
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number right away, or take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
  • Try to find out if he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
  • Tell a family member or friend right away what’s going on.

If a friend or loved one talks or behaves in a way that makes you believe he or she might be at-risk of self-harm or suicide, do not try to handle the situation alone. Reach out to a trained healthcare professional. Encouraging the individual to call a suicide hotline may also be beneficial. Below, please find suicide hotline resources.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Open 24/7

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also includes a Veteran’s specific line.: 1-800-273-TALK(8255) and Press 1

Chat Capabilities:

Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741-741

Would you like to become an Advocate?

By signing up as an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Field Advocate, you will be joining thousands of other volunteers who have agreed to build relationships with their members of Congress and state legislators to prevent suicide. As a Field Advocate, you will receive several emails a month from your AFSP Public Policy Team in Washington, DC – updates on the latest policy news and events, and action alerts so you can know when and how to take action on the policy issues you care about. At the end of this form, you will also be given the opportunity to sign up to receive local AFSP chapter emails to learn about AFSP’s work in other areas, such as education, research, and support, and opportunities to connect locally with other volunteers. If you are interested, please click the link provided: Become an Advocate.


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (2017). Become an Advocate. Retrieved from

Sane Australia. (N.D). Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic. Suicide and Suicidal Thoughts. Retrieved from


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