Talk to someone you are worried about
Never be afraid to open up a conversation about suicide. Your words can make a difference.
Don’t be afraid to ask
If you want to ask someone if they’re thinking about suicide, it might seem difficult to know how to start. You might feel anxious about bringing it up and worry that you might make things worse.
Please remember that there are ways you can talk about suicide.
The person you are reaching out to may be wanting you to approach them, and will probably feel relieved that you asked.
How to talk to someone you are worried about
Let them know you care
Let the person know they matter to you and this is why you are starting the conversation. They may be struggling with feelings of hopelessness or isolation and feeling like they have no one to turn to.
Ask them if they’re thinking about suicide
If you think someone you know might be considering suicide, it’s usually better to ask them directly. They might be trying to find a way to explain how they are feeling but struggling with finding the words. By asking them, you open up the conversation, and give them an opportunity to speak.
Let them know you are listening
Give the person space to share their feelings. Let them know you won’t judge them. Try to listen and really hear what they are saying. Often, it’s not about trying to find solutions, just being a listening ear.
Acknowledge their pain
Feelings of isolation and sadness can reduce when someone feels they have someone to confide in. People who are at risk of suicide are usually in pain – you might not be able to make this go away, but the small step of acknowledging it can be powerful. Try to validate the person’s feelings and don’t minimize what they are going through. Even if it doesn’t seem like a lot to you, it might feel unbearable for them.
Let them know help is available
Anyone who is struggling with thoughts of suicide can call Talk Suicide for advice and support. Our lines are open 24 hours a day. They can also text us between 4 p.m. and midnight ET. Encourage the person you are worried about to reach out to us, or to seek support elsewhere – see our resources page [link] to find distress lines in your community. If you think they might harm themselves imminently, please call 911 right away, or encourage them to go to their nearest emergency department.
Let them know they deserve support
Feeling like you are not deserving of help can be a big barrier to reaching out. Let the person know not only that help is available, but that they deserve to feel supported in whatever they are facing.
Use inclusive, safe languageSuicide safe language guide
Words are important when it comes to talking about suicide, and while talking can make a big difference, there are things you should avoid saying. Read our safe language guide to find out more about which words and phrases to use.
Phrases you can use
- “Are you doing ok?”
- “I’ve noticed you haven’t been yourself recently”
- “I’m worried about you”
- “I care about you and I want to help”
- “What are you feeling?”
- “Are you having thoughts of ending your life?”
- “Are you thinking about suicide?”
- “You deserve help”
- “You are not alone”
- “I’m here to listen”
- “Tell me more about that”
- “Whatever you tell me, I won’t judge you”
- “That’s a lot to carry”
- “It seems like you are going through a lot”
- “I hear you”
- “I see that you are in a lot of pain.”