Show You Care: Let the person know you really care. Talk about your feelings and ask about his or hers. Listen carefully to what they have to say.
- “It sounds like you’re angry (or jealous or something else), and it’s okay to be angry.”
- “I’m worried about you, about how you feel.”
- ”You mean a lot to me. I want to help.”
- ”I’m here, if you need someone to talk to.”
Ask The Question: Talking with people about suicide won’t put the idea in their heads. Be direct in a caring, non-confrontational way. Get the conversation started.
- “Are you thinking about suicide?”
- ”Do you really want to die?”
- “Do you want your problems to go away?”
Challenge their Thinking; It’s also about helping them see that death won’t solve their problem
- ‘It’s okay to feel angry, but it’s not okay to kill yourself.’
- ‘I care about you, but I can’t give in to you when you act this way, so now I have to call someone here to keep you safe.’
- ‘How are you going to feel the respect and attention you’re looking for if you are dead? You’ll be gone forever.’
- ‘Do you really want to go away forever? You’ll leave a big hole of pain in your family and friends, who love you very much.’
Create Time-to-talk: The goal is to keep the person safe long enough to get to a time and place where there can be some good talking.
- Go for a drive. Take them to a place where they might calm down.
- ‘Go for a walk or drive him ‘round the community. Only drop him back home when he’s really tired. But still watch over him.’
- ‘Take him away from the thing that was making him angry.’
- ‘Go to a coffee shop.’ (laughter)
- ‘Or the beach.’ (more laughter)
- ‘Go to a place that’s safe for them but doesn’t facilitate their suicide fantasy, or give in to what they’re asking for.’
- ‘Sometimes the safest place might be the emergency room.’
After they calm down and get some slept, you can make connections, like with family or support workers. Then you can talk about it more.
- ‘Do something that makes him happy. Just ask them gently. You can listen to them. Get their story.’
- ‘Remind them about their family. People they care about. You can ask them, “What are the troubles in your life?”’
- ‘Ask them simple questions. Get them to think about what they are doing. Like, “How are you feeling when you say you want to kill yourself?” or “What are the things that make you feel this way?’
- Help them break it down, so they can see the process of when they do this, identifying emotional states and suicidal triggers.’
- ‘You can help them think about other things they can do when they feel this way again.’
Get Help: Never talk of suicide as a secret.
- “I know where we can get some help.”
- ”Let’s talk to someone who can help.”
- “I can go with you to get some help.”
- “Let’s call the crisis line, now.”
Sometimes you can be the most help by referring your friend to someone with professional skills such as:
- Someone the person already has connections with.
- Trustworthy family member. Someone the young person has respect for Support working together with the family member. “Family is important to provide support. It’s a partnership: support working with family and vice versa.”
- Someone who can help build coping mechanisms and help them talk about their strengths.
- Connect with a mental health professional or someone who can follow-up separately with the person making the threat.
- Someone who can talk to the whole community about suicide.
- Anyone SAFE – “Sometimes, to keep them safe, there might be no one left to call but the police.”
What NOT to say
- ‘Go for it’
- ‘Make my day.’
- ‘Go ahead.’
- ‘I dare you.’
- ‘Here’s the rope.’
- Giving them a challenge so they feel they have to prove it, like, ‘You don’t really mean it’ or ‘I don’t believe you.’
- Saying something dismissive, like, ‘It can’t be that bad’ or ‘You always say that.’
- Saying something that might make them feel more angry or alone, like, ‘Who’s it going to hurt?’ or ‘No one cares.’
Do something now: Don’t assume that they will get better without help or that they will seek help on their own.
Acknowledge your reaction: It’s natural to feel panic and shock, but take time to listen and think before you act.
Be there for them: Spend time with the person and express your care and concern.
Ask if they are thinking of suicide: Asking can sometimes be very hard but it shows that you have noticed things, been listening, that you care and that they’re not alone.
Check out their safety: If a person is considering suicide it is important to know how much they have thought about it. Do they have a plan?
Decide what to do: What you decide to do needs to take into account the safety concerns that you have. Don’t agree to keep it a secret.
Take action: The person can get help from a range of professional and supportive people
Ask for a promise: if thoughts of suicide return, it is important for the person to again reach out and tell someone.
Look after yourself: It is difficult and emotionally draining to support someone who is suicidal, especially over an extended period.
FOR IMMEDIATE HELP CALL
2-1-1 – Local Suicide Intervention
800-435-7609 – National Teen Suicide Hotline