Suicide Prevention What to Do

If you or someone you know is actively suicidal, go to the nearest ER, call 911, or call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).


Additional steps you can take if someone you know is suffering from depression and you are concerned about suicide. 

(As shared by our partner: Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation)


In meeting a person who appears to be depressed, don't be afraid to offer help even if it means only sitting and listening, or offering a shoulder to cry on. Be supportive and non-judgmental. Help the person vent his or her feelings. Don't try to fix the persons problems for him/her or offer a solution. Don't attempt to minimize the feelings that the person is verbalizing even though they may seem small to you. Often, just the process of allowing the person to talk about his/her problems may provide a significant amount of relief for at lest a temporary period. Don't enter into a pact of secrecy with this person. He or she is aware that you have offered to help and to be there for him or her. By agreeing to not discuss the problem with anyone else, you will be personally conflicted in the event that it becomes necessary to share your information in order to save the person's life.


Ask the person if he or she is having thoughts of suicide. This is a safe question. Either the person is or is not. Your asking the question will not put the thought into his or her head, and will not lead to suicide.


In the event that the person answers the question, "Yes," follow the answer by asking if he or she has an active plan for when and how the plan would be carried out and whether the he or she has the implements needed to carry out the plan. If the person has answered "yes" to this question, it will be important to insure that he/she begins to deal with professional help as soon as possible, voluntarily or involuntarily.


Suicidal action is born in a point of crisis at which the emotions and pain experienced by the person become unendurable. The longer the person can be kept talking and venting his/her feelings, the more likely he or she is to calm to a more rational and self manageable state. At this point he or she may be more ready to look at the alternatives to suicide.


When the person has calmed to the point where the discussion can begin to turn to the direction of the resolution of his/her pain by a method other than suicide, action needs to be taken immediately before the degree of pain and despair begins to mount again. This action should take the form of making immediate contact with a professional in order to have the person evaluated for the risk of suicide. This can be done through a visit to the local hospital emergency room, contact with the local crisis response hotline (see above), or a local crisis center visit. In any case, the person should be accompanied until that evaluation is made. In the event that the person is a child or adolescent, involve the parent immediately, as all authority for voluntary professional help requires parental permission


If the person is unwilling to seek help, contact the county suicide or crisis hotline listed above yourself. Explain the situation and ask for assistance in resolving it. If the person has already begun the process of completing suicide, notify 911 immediately. Give them as much information regarding the address, the person involved, the method by which the suicide was attempted, and any other information which you have available. Stay with the person until help arrives.


Take good care of yourself. You will have just participated in a very stressful process. You are advised to decompress after the experience. Again, the best way to deal with the stress is by talking about it in as much detail as possible with those you have confidence in. They may be friends, counselors, clergymen, family, etc. It is most important that you take advantage of the opportunity to vent.


Sometimes, in spite of the best efforts of friends, family, or professionals, people manage in the completion of suicides. If you have followed the basic process outlined above and have made a sincere attempt to prevent the suicide, you have performed in a heroic manner. The choice of suicide was not yours. You did what you could to convince the person to select an alternate route. Again, you are advised to seek a form of release of emotions. In this case, counseling by a clergyman or a mental health professional is advised.