In The Know Zone

How You Can Help?

How can you help someone who may be suicidal?

In a nutshell, be informed, sensitive and involved. Standing aside and wringing your hands while a friend or loved one spirals into suicide is both futile and cowardly. Here’s a list of things you should and shouldn’t do:

  • Be aware. Learn the warning signs
  • Show interest and support
  • Ask the person directly whether he or she is contemplating suicide
  • Be direct. Talk openly and freely about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Encourage expressions of feelings and accept those feelings as sincere expressions
  • Don’t judge. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life
  • Don’t dare the person to kill himself or herself. That could precipitate the attempt
  • Don’t command them to refrain from suicide.
  • Don’t ask “why”. That encourages defensiveness
  • Offer understanding, not sympathy
  • Don’t act shocked. That creates distance
  • Don’t allow yourself to be sworn to secrecy. Seek support
  • Don’t offer glib reassurances. That only proves you don’t understand. Instead, offer realistic hope that alternatives are available.
  • ACT! Remove weapons, poisons or other means of suicide. Get help from individuals or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention [20]

[20] Ibid.
In The Know: At Risk Pamphlet/ DVD Package
In The Know: At Risk DVD Package