Do take the person seriously (although some people may never give any warning, 80% of people who commit suicide do give some form of warning)
Do acknowledge that a threat of or attempt at suicide is a plea for help; let the person know that you are willing to help him/her.
Do be available to listen, to talk, to be concerned, and to share that you care…but refer the person for professional help.
Do know your personal limits as a helper. You may not feel comfortable trying to help someone cope with a particular problem, but you probably can help him or her get to an agency that can provide the necessary services.
Do attend to yourself. Helping someone who is suicidal is hard, demanding, and draining work and you also need to take care of yourself in the process.
Don’t minimize the situation or the depth of her/his feelings (Avoid saying things like "Oh, it will be much better tomorrow." or "But that is silly, you have everything to live for.")
Don’t be afraid to ask the person if they are so depressed or sad that they want to hurt themselves (e.g. "You seem so upset and discouraged that I'm wondering if you are considering suicide.") – asking will not give the person the idea and doing so communicates that you care.
Don’t overcommit yourself and, therefore, not be able to deliver on what you promise (e.g., “I won’t break up with you if you will stop talking about suicide.” Or “I will make everything better if you stop thinking about suicide.”)
Don’t agree to be bound by confidentiality – especially in this case it is likely that you will need to and should involve others.
Copyright © 2014 Ball State University 2000 W. University Ave. Muncie, IN 47306800-382-8540 and 765-289-1241