Responding to Suicide Risk

You can help:

It is a myth that asking someone about suicide actually creates suicidal thoughts. Talking to individuals about suicide does not increase their risk. Ask the question – Are you thinking of suicide? or Are you considering harming or killing yourself? or Have things gotten so bad that you don’t care if you live or die?

 

  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide.
  • Talking of feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself.
  • Seeking pills, weapons or other means to kill oneself.
  • Giving away personal or prized possessions.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
  • Taking risks/engaging in reckless behaviors.
  • Increasing use of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Having made previous suicide attempt(s).
  • Following a tragic event or loss.
  • If the individual increases use of alcohol or drugs.
  • If the individual behaves in a reckless or agitated manner.
  • If the individual identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning.
  • If the individual is a military veteran.
  • If the individual has experienced the loss of someone to suicide.
  • DO trust your intuition.
  • DO call 911 if you are concerned for an individual’s immediate safety or if an individual needs immediate attention.
  • DO stay calm.
  • DO take your time and be patient when responding to someone at risk.
  • DO listen carefully to better understand the individual’s concerns.
  • DO take concerns seriously.
  • DO offer hope, reasons to be hopeful, alternatives to the situation, resource information and information on how helpful treatment can be.
  • DO urge the individual to accept professional support. Consider making a phone call to a mental health resource to connect the individual to appropriate services. Review your campus card for resources specific to your location.
  • DON’T ignore the warning signs.
  • DON’T leave someone alone if there is a risk of self-harm.
  • DON’T minimize the situation.
  • DON’T make the problem your own.
  • DON’T argue or try to change the individual’s emotions.