We can all help prevent suicide. Every year, Family Strategies and other mental health organizations and individuals across the U.S. and around the world raise awareness of suicide prevention during September. By starting the conversation, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, we can prevent suicides and save lives.
Know the Warning Signs
Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help.
- Impulsive and/or aggressive behavior
- Job or financial loss
- Loss of relationship(s)
- Local clusters of suicide
- Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse
Know What Those in Crisis May Be Feeling
Individuals in crisis feel that their situation is unsolvable and inescapable. They feel a loss of control and see no way out. This is not a time to debate whether or not suicide is right or wrong, or whether or not their feelings are good or bad. This is the time to listen and offer support. Some common feelings and symptoms are:
- Cannot stop the pain
- Cannot think clearly
- Poor decision-making skills
- No sense of control
- No one seems to care or pay attention
- Life would be better without them in it
What Can You Do?
- ASK – Don’t be afraid to ask the tough question when someone you know is in emotional pain. Caringly ask, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Research shows that asking directly provides relief and does not cause harm.
- Keep them safe – Ask them if they have thought about how they would do it. Separate them from everything they are thinking of using to hurt themselves.
- Be there – Listen to their reasons for feeling hopeless and in pain. Listen without judgment and with compassion and empathy.
- Help them connect – Help them connect to a support system so they have others to turn to for help such as a helpline, professional therapists, family, friends, church leaders, coaches, or co-workers.
- Follow up – Continue to make contact in the days and weeks after a crisis. This can make all the difference in keeping someone alive. Check with them on a regular basis.
What You Should Never Do
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy
- Don’t act shocked
- Don’t lecture on the value of life or anything similar
- Don’t judge
- Don’t dismiss
Explore these additional resources for more information: