How To Best Help A Loved One Who Speaks About Ending Their Life
Content Warning
This story contains discussions of suicide. If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​
1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.
Notice The Warning Signs
Your loved one might be open about suicidal thoughts, but it’s still important to look for potential warning signs. These signs include increased substance use, aggressive behavior, withdrawing from others, mood swings, unusual sleep patterns, purchasing a weapon, gathering pills, and giving away their possessions.
Pay Attention To Risk Factors says it’s a myth to believe that suicide is a result of stress alone or an act to be carried out randomly; there are many risk factors that should be recognized. Mental illness, substance abuse, chronic illness, a history of abuse, and recent tragedies are all risk factors that may be affecting your loved one.
Take Their Threats Seriously
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when someone opens up about wanting to end their own life is to downplay their threats and invalidate their pain in a moment when they need genuine support. Instead, ensure that they can’t carry out a suicide plan by showing how much you care about their health, well-being, and life.
Gather Resources
In the U.S., call 911 if you think your loved one is in immediate danger; the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is another reliable option. Former veterans in need of help can text 838255, and 1-866-488-7386 is the number for The Trevor Project; you can also bring your loved one to their doctor or an ER.
Offer Genuine Compassion
Offering compassion to a loved one who has been contemplating suicide helps diminish the cruelty of indifference that makes a suicidal person feel so alone. Do your best to connect with them on a deeper level in regard to their feelings, and remind them that they aren’t as isolated as they might believe.