How To Help A Friend Considering Suicide (An H4HK Cheat Sheet)

Considering SuicideSeptember is Suicide Prevention Month and it’s time for another H4HK Cheat Sheet to help people to better understand the issue of suicide and how they can help. So far, we’ve looked at Suicide Risk Factors and Warning Signs. The text of today’s cheat sheet is included below and a printable pdf version can be accessed by clicking the picture above.

Introduction

If you have a friend who you think is considering suicide, you may feel lost or wonder what the right thing to do is or whether you should do anything at all. While there is no one right thing to say or do, this cheat sheet will help you to have something to say when saying nothing can have dire consequences and to avoid doing things which are not helpful.

What To Do

  • Take every mention of suicide seriously.
  • Ask directly “Are you thinking about suicide?” Asking about it will not put the idea in their head.
  • Listen and be supportive.
  • Offer them hope.
  • Don’t judge.
  • Validate their emotions.
  • Watch for unspoken emotions.
  • Make yourself available to your friend. Be gentle but persistent in offering help.
  • Know the warnings signs and risk factors for suicide.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Talk about their emotions.
  • Let them know that they are important to you.
  • Reassure them that thoughts of suicide are nothing to be afraid of and it took courage to talk about it.
  • Ask about their support network (family, friends, teachers, pastors, etc.)
  • Tell an adult (parent, friend’s parent, teacher, pastor, school counselor).
  • Find out what kind of help your school has available.
  • Seek professional help.

What Not To Do

  • Don’t wait (safe not sorry)
  • Do not make any deals.
  • Do not agree to keep it to yourself.
  • Don’t leave them alone.
  • Don’t try to argue someone out of suicide.
  • Avoid simplistic or spiritualized answers.
  • Don’t lecture.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS CONSIDERING SUICIDE, PLEASE CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE AT 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For more resources for learning about, and dealing with suicide, please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Suicide Help Center.
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Written by Wayne Stocks

Wayne is the founder and executive director of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. He is a happily married father of four kids with a passion for helping young people who are going through rough times. In addition to Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne previously started I Am A Child of Divorce and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids to help kids who are dealing with the disruption of their parents’ relationship. These are now part of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Wayne speaks frequently at conferences and churches on issues related to helping kids learn to deal with difficult emotions and life in modern families.

Wayne lives with his wife, three youngest kids, three dogs and an insane collection of his kids’ other pets outside of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to his work with Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne is a partner in a local consulting firm, an avid reader, coaches his son’s soccer team and is a proud supporter of Leicester City Football Club (and yes, for those in know, his affinity for the club does predate the 2016 championship).

You can reach Wayne at wayne@hope4hurtingkids.com.