What should I do if I think someone is suicidal?

As angry as it may make your friend and maybe even their family, when a friend won't get help and continues to talk about suicide, call 911. Explain what your friend has been saying. If the situation merits it, the dispatcher will send police to your friend's home or place of work. The police will help get your friend to a facility where caring doctors will help him or her understand the seriousness of the situation. These days, facilities are clean and well-run (the plethora of lawsuits have put an end to the frightening psychiatric operations you may have seen in old movies). Getting to the hospital can serve as a wake-up call for your friend and those around her who must know the seriousness of the situation.

If you think someone is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medications.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Mental Health.

If there is a risk of suicide, don’t delay or ignore the situation. Get help right away:
  • Call a crisis hotline.
  • Go to the emergency room if the suicide danger is high.
  • Call 911 if someone has been injured in a suicide attempt or if someone has swallowed poison or an overdose of medication.
What to do if someone you know is suicidal:
  • Trust your instincts that the individual is in danger and may attempt suicide.
  • Talk with that person and obtain appropriate mental health intervention for him or her.
  • Ask the person about his or her plan. If the person is able to explain the suicide plan in great detail, he or she is at greater risk.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Get professional help even if the person does not express any desire for it.
  • Never leave a suicidal person alone.
  • Never swear that you will keep secret the person's plan for suicide.
  • Do not judge the person.
  • Do not attempt to counsel the person.

Use the following resource:

National Suicide Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (I-800-784-2433)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.