How to be Helpful When Someone is Suicidal*

  • Take all threats or attempts seriously.
  • Be aware and learn warning signs of suicide.
  • Be direct and ask if the person is thinking of suicide. If the answer is yes, ask if the person has a plan and what the timeline is.
  • Be non-judgmental and empathic.
  • Do not minimize the feelings expressed by the person.
  • Do not be sworn to secrecy… seek out the support of appropriate professionals.
  • Ask if there is anything you can do.
  • Draw on resources in the person’s network.
  • Do not use clichés or try to debate with the person.
  • In an acute crisis take the person to an emergency room or walk in clinic or call a helpline.
  • Do not leave them alone until help is provided.
  • Remove any obvious means (e.g. firearms, drugs or sharp objects) from the immediate vicinity.

If someone you know is considering suicide or has already created a suicide plan and you sense it’s an emergency situation, act immediately and call 9-1-1.

Resources and References

** Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP)