Relationships & Family

What to do When Someone You Care About is Going to Hurt Themselves

Article in partnership with Directing Change

Friends are very important and are a safe place to share what we think and feel. Sometimes a friend might share thoughts of hurting themselves or ending their life by suicide. You may not know what to do: you want to respect their privacy, but you also worry they may be in danger if you do not do or say something. 

Here are a few ideas:

  1. First, let them know that you appreciate they trusted you and shared what they were feeling. Tell them that you care about them and are there to help.
  2. If it is not clear from what they have said, do not be hesitant to ask directly: “Are you thinking about suicide?” Asking this question will not put ideas of suicide in their mind and will help clarify the type of questions to ask and supports they may need.
  3. Let them know that while you might not fully understand what they are feeling, that you are there for them. Share with them that thoughts about suicide often are often a sign of emotional pain and you want to help them find a way to reduce or eliminate the pain without risking suicide. 
  4. Offer some ideas of how to find help. Ask which they would like to do and how you can help. Your goal is to help keep them safe, assist them in finding some hope.For example, you might offer to call a crisis hotline together and sit with them while they make the call. For more ideas and places to get help see the resources below.

General Resources :

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you feel that your friend is at risk right now, don’t wait. Encourage them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also contact the Lifeline for advice about helping a friend.

Know the Signs: Learn how to see the warning signs of suicide, how to find the words to have a direct conversation with someone in crisis, and where to find professional help and resources

Youth Resources :

Teen Line: If you have a problem or just want to talk with another teen who knows how you feel, trained teen volunteers are available via text message every night from 6pm to 9pm Pacific Time. Text TEEN to 839-563 or visit the website for a message board or to download their app.

My Friend Is Talking About Suicide. What Should I Do?

Youth Suicide Warning Signs: If you are worried about someone, ask yourself these important questions and learn what to do.

Suicide Prevention 101 Prezi Presentation: This Prezi gives you information about suicide prevention, how to help a friend, and the Directing Change Program, which offers ways youth can get involved in suicide prevention.

Directing Change Suicide Prevention Films: Watch movies made by young people for young people about how to recognize warning signs and support a friend.