Never agree to keep thoughts of suicide a secret. Sometimes instinct tells us we have to break confidentiality. It’s better to have someone alive and mad at you than dead by suicide and you feeling that you missed an opportunity to help them keep safe. We recommend treating this subject and the people involved with respect, dignity and compassion and don’t keep it to yourself. Know who you can connect with as this work cannot be done alone. You may, as a helper, experience thoughts and feelings that are uncomfortable. It’s OK to reach out.

Talking about suicide can provide tremendous relief and being a listener is the best intervention anyone can give. Talking about suicide will not cause suicide. When experiencing intense emotions, the person will not be able to problem solve. It is not your job to fix their problems. Listen, care, validate and be nonjudgmental.

Questions to Consider when you’re concerned:

(The responses to the following questions will enable you to reflect back your concern to the person and/or communicate to a trained professional.)

Are you thinking of suicide?

Have you tried to end your life before?

Have you been feeling left out or alone?

Have you been feeling like you’re a burden?

Do you feel isolated and or disconnected?

Are you experiencing the feeling of being trapped?

Has someone close to you recently died by suicide?

How are you thinking of ending your life?

Do you have the means to do this (firearms, drugs, ropes)?

Have you been drinking or taken any drugs or medications?

How have you been sleeping?

Are you feeling more anxious than usual?

Who can we contact that you feel safe and/or comfortable with?

For the helper:

Are you noticing or have you noticed any dramatic mood changes?

Changes in work behavior or school attendance/marks dropping?

Does the person seem to be out of touch with reality?

Resources