How to Talk About Suicide

Suicide is preventable. Saving a life starts with knowing the warning signs and having a conversation. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ASFP), mental illness is one of the biggest risk factors for suicide, and over 50% of people who commit suicide suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). If you or a loved one have been living with depression or any other mental illness, it is important to be aware of the warning signs of suicide, which according to the ASFP include:

If you suspect that someone you know might be considering suicide, talk to them. Experts say that directly asking about whether someone is suicidal or has a plan to commit suicide does not "put the idea in their head" and won't push someone to act on their ideation. Even if you think the conversation will be hard, awkward, or unproductive, it's critical to reach out. Below are a few guidelines for how to approach this conversation: 

If you've been struggling with suicidal or self-harming thoughts, know that you're not alone. It can be scary to ask for help, and you might be worried that you won't be taken seriously. Here are a few ways to start the conversation:

It's important to keep trying until you get the help you need. Free crisis help is available 24/7 through the Crisis Text Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). To reach the Crisis Text Line, text "NEDA" to 741741 to reach a Crisis Counselor via text. If you'd rather talk on the phone, call the NSPL at 1-800-273-8255. 

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Always consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.