Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, with about one death every 11 minutes. The number of people who think about or attempt suicide is even higher. It is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34. Suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play to save lives and create healthy and strong individuals, families, and communities. Talking to someone about their suicidal thoughts doesn’t usually make them more likely to end their life.
- A family history of suicide
- Prior attempts
- Stressful life events like a relationship ending or losing your job
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling isolated or not having social support
- Anger at other people
- Intense emotional distress
- Problems with work or money
- Excessive use of drugs or alcohol
- Living with a mental health condition
- Difficult life events, such as experiencing a traumatic childhood or physical or emotional abuse
- Having a physical health condition, especially if this causes chronic pain or serious disability
A change in someone’s personality or behavior might be a sign that they are having suicidal thoughts. The following things could indicate that someone is thinking of attempting suicide:
- Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
- Saying goodbye or sending messages that feel like an ending
- Preparing or making plans to end their life, such as storing up medication
- Putting their affairs in order, such as giving away belongings or making a will
- Cheeriness which may seem fake to you.
- Joke about their emotions, such as saying something quite alarming that is disguised as a joke.
What can you do?
- Talk to them. Ask them how they’re feeling.
- Let them know that you care about them and that they aren’t alone
- Be non-judgmental, do NOT criticize or blame them
- Repeat their words back to them in your own words. This shows that you are listening.
- Reassure them that they won’t feel this way forever, and that intensity of feelings can reduce in time
- Ask them if they have a plan for ending their life and what it is.
- If someone is in crisis, you can help them to get support from mental health or emergency services.
- Focus on people they care about, and who care about them. And who they might hurt by leaving them behind
- Make sure someone is with them if they’re in immediate danger
- Get support for yourself.