Someone who is talking or threatening should always be taken seriously. If you shrug them off, they may feel they have to 'prove' they were serious.
Call Emergency Services...it's better to be safe than sorry after the fact.
Suicidal and depressed people may not be able to ask for help on their own.
Try to find out if they have a 'plan' and the means to carry it out.
Let them know that there is HOPE, that it is a temporary condition and they WILL feel better.
Allow them to cry and verbally express their anger (depression can be caused by repressed anger).
Hug them, hold their hand, show them you care about them. Pamper them.
If you are actively suicidal, we STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you obtain professional help immediately!
In New Zealand, call 111
In the USA, call 911
In the UK, call 999 or 112
In Australia, call 000
In other countries, check the Emergency Services of your phone book.
If are not actively suicidal but feeling 'down', check out our Online Helper on the Home Page.
If you are wondering how to help someone who is 'down', or saying things such "You/the world would be better off without me," then read on...
How to help a suicidal person
First of all, take them seriously. While some people may talk and act in a suicidal manner to elicit sympathy or manipulate a person or situation, people have died 'accidentally' in such cases.
If someone is telling you that they are going to commit suicide, call emergency services and ask them to send someone to the person. It sounds trite, but it really is better to be safe than sorry. A person who is feeling suicidal is usually suffering from treatable depression, but may not be able to seek for help on their own.
What you can say to a person talking about suicide
The San Francisco Suicide Prevention below suggests asking these questions when assessing potential risk...
Plan - Do they have one?
Lethality - Is it lethal? Can they die?
Availability - Do they have the means to carry it out?
Illness - Do they have a mental or physical illness?
Depression - Chronic or specific incident(s)?
Even is the person does not qualify for the P.L.A.I.D. statements, ALWAYS take people seriously when suicide is discussed.
If you have called Emergency Services and the person has been assessed as 'not at risk' consider the following DOs and DONTs:
- DON'T get angry with them
- DON'T try to put a 'guilt trip' on them
- DON'T judge them
- DON'T tell them to 'get over it' or 'snap out of it'
- DON'T brush them off as wasting your time
- DON'T feel you must 'go it alone'. Consider calling in family, friends or a minister to support you
- DO accept they are feeling bad, even if you don't understand them
- DO be an 'active' listener: "So, what you are saying is that..."
- DO give them hope: "I know it doesn't seem like it, but things will get better," "You know you can come to me, I'm always here for you."
- DO show you care. Hug them, love them, hold their hand
- DO allow them to cry and express their anger, verbally
- DO comfort them. Cook their favourite meals or comfort food; watch a movie with them; take them out for coffee or a burger; give a back massage
- DO encourage them to seek help
- DO stay the night with them, or at least remove dangerous knives, medications, alcohol etc from their premises
Suicide Intervention Strategies in New Zealand
A comprehensive overview of this subject can be found on the New Zealand Ministry of Health website, listed below. It's language is a little bit academic, but not too inaccessible. They summarise the range of strategies being employed in New Zealand.
The discussion moves from "using research to prevent suicide" to "key components in suicide prevention". They discuss "intervention themes" and then present a powerful diagram: "Framework of health sector interventions to interrupt the pathway of suicide".