Tips for talking about suicide

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide. Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
  • Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support. Follow up in the days and weeks following a crisis.
  • Don’t dare him or her to do it.
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support. Seek help from a trusted adult if you are a young person.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, like weapons or pills.
  • Get help from people or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

Helpful questions to guide a conversation with someone contemplating suicide.