Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention

Whether you are here to help yourself or a loved one who is feeling suicidal, this page provides useful information for suicide prevention. This page will help you know what signs to look for and what steps to take to prevent a suicide from occurring.

The Thoughts of a Suicidal Person

Severe depression is the most common reason people commit suicide. (1) Left untreated, severe depression causes sufferers to have suicidal thoughts and feelings. (2) The distorted negative thinking caused by severe depression causes sufferers to feel so hopeless that suicidal thoughts arise. (3) Severely depressed people do not think they can be helped. They don’t see a way to end their mental anguish other than through suicide. (3)

In addition, suicidal people think they are a burden to others. Since they think they are a burden, those who are suicidal actually think they would be doing their loved ones a favor by committing suicide. The ideas that “I am a burden to others” and “Everyone would be better off without me” are just more of the untrue distorted thoughts that severe depression causes a suicidal person to believe. (1) & (4)

While those who are severely depressed feel hopeless and think they cannot be helped, there is hope because help is available! While those who are suicidal think they would be unburdening their loved ones by committing suicide, this thought is completely untrue. Rather, loved ones are left with unanswered questions, guilt over failing to prevent the suicide, and profound sadness.

If You Are Suicidal

Talking about your suicidal thoughts and feelings with those you trust gives them a chance to help you. If you are unable to think of solutions other than suicide, it is not that they do not exist but rather that you are currently unable to see them. (5) Talking with those you trust opens your eyes to helpful solutions. Therapists, counselors, family, and friends can help you see solutions that may not be apparent to you right now. (5)

The first step to coping with suicidal thoughts and feelings is to share them with someone you trust, whether it be a family member, a close friend, your therapist, an experienced counselor on a helpline, or anyone else you feel comfortable with. (5) If talking about your thoughts and feelings is too difficult, you can communicate them in other ways. For instance, you can write your thoughts down in a letter, an email, or a text to those you trust. (5)

Until you recover from your suicidal crisis, you should provide those you trust with important contact information and medical information so that they can quickly jump into action to help you if necessary. You can write this information down on a piece of paper and call it your “Plan for Life,” which is detailed below.

A Plan For Life

Carry your plan for life with you at all times so you can refer to it or give it to those who can help you in a crisis. Your plan for life may include the following:

  • Contact information of doctors and therapists.
  • ​Contact information of family and friends who will help in an emergency.
  • ​Medical diagnoses (e.g. depression and  other ailments).
  • ​Medications you are taking.
  • Health insurance information.
  • Contact information for a local suicide hotline.
  • Contact information for local support groups.

(2) & (3)

On your “Plan for Life,” you should also include the following reminders for yourself so you remember there is always hope!

  • A suicidal crisis is TEMPORARY. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever. Solutions are found, feelings change, and unexpected positive events occur. You WILL feel better again. 
  • Suicidal thoughts are symptoms of a TREATABLE medical condition. You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.
  • People who have felt as badly as you are feeling now overcame their bad feelings and survived. You will SURVIVE too. Give yourself time and do not go through it alone. Talk to someone you trust.

(2), (3), (5)

Suicide Warning Signs

The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize the warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them. (3) Take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. (7)

Suicide Warning Signs

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Helping Someone Who Is Suicidal

Although talking to a friend or family member about his or her suicidal thoughts and feelings can be difficult, your loved one will be grateful to see you care and thankful for the opportunity to talk to someone. (1) Some suggestions to help you bring up the topic of suicide with your loved one are shown below.​

Conversation Openers:

  • “I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
  • “Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and I’m wondering how you are doing.”
  • “I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”
  • “You are not alone. I am here for you if you need to talk.”
  • “I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”

(3) & (6)

Questions you may ask:

  • “Do you ever feel so badly that you think about suicide?”
  • “When did you begin feeling like this?”
  • “Did something happen that made you start thinking this way?”
  • “How can I best support you right now?”
  • “Have you thought about getting help?”

(3) & (6)

When your loved one begins to speak with you about his or her suicidal thoughts and feelings, it is important for you to listen in a non-judgmental and non-confrontational manner. (6) Acting judgmental and confrontational will disrupt the communication process. Be supportive and empathetic as you let the suicidal person unload the despair they are experiencing. (3)

Just showing you care and listening are some of the most important things you can do for a suicidal person. It is important that you refrain from playing the role of a therapist if you are not trained as a therapist. (3) You may have good intentions but you may say something that makes a suicidal person feel worse. Just listen and let your loved one know that their life is important to you and to others. (2)

Do not minimize a suicidal person’s problems. (3) You may not see a problem but for a severely depressed person, problems seem insurmountable. It is not about how bad you think the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one. (3) Trying to convince a person suffering with a mental illness that it’s “not that bad” may only increase their feelings of hopelessness. (6)

Those contemplating suicide often don’t believe they can be helped. (3) However, help is available. Let your loved one know that what they are experiencing is treatable and that suicidal feelings are temporary. (6) Someone who is feeling suicidal needs a lot of support so you may be proactive. You can help your loved one find a doctor or a mental health professional, participate in making the first phone call, or go along to the first appointment. (6) If you need additional help, you can call a crisis line for advice and referrals. (3)

It is important to continually support your loved one on his or her road to recovery. Your support is vital to ensure your friend or loved one remains on the recovery track. (3) Even after the immediate suicidal crisis has passed, stay in touch with the person, periodically checking in or dropping by. (3) Don’t assume that your persistence is unwanted or intrusive. Risking your feelings to help save a life is a risk worth taking. (6) Be proactive at offering assistance. Saying, “Call me if you need anything” is too vague. Don’t wait for the person to call you or even to return your calls. Drop by, call again, and invite the person out. (3)

Whenever possible you should get permission from the depressed person to call his or her doctor if you feel there is a problem. (2) Otherwise it could be seen as “butting in” and may worsen a depressed person’s symptoms or cause added stress. (2) Of course, if you believe there is a serious risk of immediate self-harm, call the doctor. You can work out any feelings of anger the person has towards you later. (2)

Never promise confidentiality if you believe someone is very close to suicide. Keep his or her doctor or therapist informed of any thoughts of suicide. If possible, it’s best to encourage the person to discuss his or her suicidal thoughts with the doctor, but you should be ready to confirm that those discussions have taken place. This may involve making an appointment to visit the doctor together or calling the doctor on your own. Be aware that the doctor will not be able to discuss the person’s condition with you. You should only call to inform the doctor of your concern. (2)


While those who are suicidal feel hopeless, there are people they can confide in who are willing to help. Therapists, counselors, family, and friends can help see solutions that are not apparent to a suicidal person. The situation is never hopeless. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize the warning signs and know how to respond. If you notice the signs, get your loved one to seek immediate help. Even when your loved one gets help, it is important to support him or her as they recover.

Remember: Suicidal thoughts are symptoms of a treatable medical condition and a suicidal crisis is temporary. Suicide does not unburden loved ones but rather leaves them with profound sadness, guilt, and unanswered questions. Feeling suicidal is a sign that it is important to get help right away. Suicide is not a solution. Reaching out to those you trust and getting help is the solution. Choose Life. The Sun Shines Again!


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