Being supportive in a moment of crisis can be daunting. Here are some tips on how to be there for someone you love going through a hard time.
Follow these 5 steps:
- ASK directly, “Are you thinking about harming/killing yourself?”
- KEEP THEM SAFE. Ask if they’ve thought about how they would do it. Separate them from the tools/means.
- BE THERE. Offer compassion and empathy. Listen without judgment.
- HELP THEM CONNECT. Connect them to therapists, family, friends, clergy — others to trust and take actionable care.
- FOLLOW UP. Check in regularly as they might not reach out. Have others do the same. Show them they’re not alone.
DO call 911 if you think they may have done something harmful.
DO offer to listen without judgement.
DO remove potential weapons and pills.
DO make them comfortable to share.
DO check in to let them know you care and want to help.
DO offer to help with chores, meals, and other responsibilities.
DO empathize if you can relate.
DO aim to truly understand their feelings.
DO be honest if you’re not comfortable with the conversation.
DO invite them for a walk or other outing.
DO tell them they can rely on you if that’s true.
DO let them know your boundaries and other commitments.
DO offer to research a local therapist or resource.
DO let them know their life is important to you.
DO remind them what they have to live for.
DO offer hope and inspiration.
DON’T involve someone who may exacerbate the situation.
DON’T use diminishing terms such as “get over it” or “let it go”.
DON’T make threats for the greater good.
DON’T pry for details they’re not ready to divulge.
DON’T get offended if they need some time alone.
DON’T guilt them for the extra work you’re doing.
DON’T override their pain with your own.
DON’T expect them to feel or react as you would.
DON’T advise and instruct beyond your knowledge.
DON’T push them to socialize.
DON’T be their only source of support.
DON’T make them feel like a burden.
DON’T take your feelings of frustration out on them.
DON’T blame yourself for their feelings.
DON’T tell them to be grateful or more positive.
DON’T label their feelings as pessimistic or selfish.
For more advice on how to help someone in need and find resources in your area, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1800-273-TALK or visit this page for more info.
Or read this extensive list from Your Life Counts on how to notice signs and take action.
COMMUNITY BEHAVIOR: Another way to be supportive and preventative is to be mindful that most often, the ones who lash out are hurting the most. Try to disengage when conversations get heated and unproductive. Steer clear of cyber-bullying. Don’t participate in posts that aim to harm or discredit. Don’t use privileged knowledge as gossip.
Check out this recent article on risk factors and why talking about suicide is important.
Watch this video about World Suicide Prevention Day and why you should Take a Minute, Save a Life.