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Helping loved ones in crisis

| Healthy You | Mental Health

Woman lying on couch

Here are some important steps to remember.

Suicide is a leading cause of death for people in most age groups. But often people who seriously consider suicide don't really want to die. They may think that suicide is the only way to solve their problems and end their pain.

People who have suicidal thoughts may not seek help because they feel helpless, hopeless, guilty or worthless. These feelings may come from having a mental health problem, such as depression. These problems can be treated. It's important to seek help when suicidal thoughts occur. With treatment, you can feel better.

Many people have fleeting thoughts of death. These are less of a problem and are different from actively planning to try suicide. The risk of suicide is higher if someone often thinks about death and killing themself or if they have made a suicide plan.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Other things you can do

Consider your own safety. If you feel safe, stay with the person, or ask someone you trust to stay with them, until help arrives.

Talk about the situation as openly as possible. Tell the person that you don't want them to die or to harm another person.

Show understanding and compassion. Don't argue with the person or deny their feelings. Arguing with the person may only increase their feeling of being out of control of their life.

Who's at risk

Most people who seriously consider or attempt suicide have one or more of the following risks:

The chance of suicide is most serious when a person has a plan for suicide that includes:

  • Having the means available to try suicide or to harm another person, such as weapons or pills.
  • Having set a time and place to try suicide.
  • Thinking there is no other way to solve the problem or end the pain.

People who consider suicide often are undecided about choosing life or death. With compassion and support, they may choose to live.

Warning signs

The warning signs of suicide may change with age. For example:

  • In children and teens, they may include the recent breakup of a relationship.
  • In adults, they may include a recent job loss or divorce.
  • In older adults, they may include the recent death of a partner, being diagnosed with a life-limiting illness or struggling with physical pain.

Don't be afraid to talk to someone if you're worried about them. Talking about suicide openly does not encourage them to act and may actually help to prevent suicide. Feeling that they are heard and cared for will encourage them to get help.