Suicide is not an easy thing to talk about. You or someone you know may have been affected by it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020 almost 46,000 people died by suicide. That means one death every 11 minutes.
That’s why it’s important to talk about it.
When a friend or loved one talks about suicide, it can be scary and overwhelming for you. But there are things that you can do to help someone you know who may be having suicidal thoughts. What you do or say can help save the life of someone.
Learn about the warning signs and what you can do to prevent suicide and save a life.
It’s not always easy to recognize the warning signs, but they’re there. Eight out of 10 people who are considering suicide give signs. Talking about suicide is not how someone would respond typically to stress. It is not a way of getting attention.
When someone talks about suicide or takes certain actions, these are signs of extreme distress and signs that they need help. You should take any talk of suicide seriously. Here’s what to watch for:
Making verbal statements such as:
Many people who die by suicide have a mental health condition. Depression is the most common. Problems with relationships, substance use, physical health, and life stressors can also be related to suicide. Previous suicide attempts, a family history of suicide, and childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma are also risk factors for suicide.
If you see warning signs of suicide, you need to take action.
Trust your instincts. If you see any of these warning signs, here’s what you can do:
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available.
Encourage your friend or loved one to get professional help. Speaking to a licensed therapist can help them learn skills to use alternative ways of thinking and behaving during crisis and give them a support system to prevent future suicide attempts.
As a friend or family member, you may also benefit from the support of a licensed therapist. Talking to someone can help you cope with and give support to your friends and loved ones who are in crisis.
See how Missi Kenyon coped with her suicidal thoughts and how it shaped her experience with helping a close friend.
988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. (n.d.). 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Retrieved September 13, 2022 from https://988lifeline.org/
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (n.d.). Risk factors, protective factors, and warning signs. Retrieved September 13, 2022 from https://afsp.org/risk-factors-protective-factors-and-warning-signs
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 8). Suicide Data and Statistics. Retrieved September 13, 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/suicide-data-statistics.html
Find Your Words. (n.d.). Depression and thoughts of suicide. Retrieved September 13, 2022 from https://findyourwords.org/depression-help/suicidal-thoughts/
Mental Health America. (n.d.). Suicide. Retrieved September 13, 2022 from https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/suicide
National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Frequently Asked Questions About Suicide. NIMH Mental Health Information Brochures and Fact Sheets. Retrieved September 13, 2022 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-faq
Suicide and Prevention Resource Center. (2020, September). Scope of the Problem. Retrieved September 13, 2022 from https://sprc.org/about-suicide/scope