What to do When Someone is Suicidal

For an October topic, a fellow blogger asked me to discuss a critical mental health topic today, what is the approach to talking down someone who is suicidal? What can you do? What can you say? I hope to discuss this the right way today because it is a hard one to talk about because there are ways to make it better and worse for someone is suicidal. You might not agree with all I say in this post, but I will discuss all the same.

Talking Down a Suicidal Friend or Family Member


There might come a time when you are faced with an impossible situation, a friend or family member tells you that they are suicidal. Even worse is a situation that I have encountered in my life– a friend, knowing my history, asked me to help them commit suicide. What do you do?

When a person says that they are suicidal take it seriously.

The first thing you can do is to tell that person that it will be okay, that people all over the world have gotten to a place where they believe that suicide is the only answer. Let them know that there are resources right away, and the biggest is:

The National Suicide Hotline. 1-800-273-8255

Asking the Right Questions

It is essential to find out the level of suicide your loved one is and if he/she is in a place where they will act on their suicidal feelings. Suicidal thoughts and feelings can quickly move into suicidal action, though you might not be a professional you can ask questions to determine where he/she is at the moment. The following I took from Mayo Clinic Website with questions you should ask:

  • How are you coping with what’s been happening in your life?
  • Do you ever feel like just giving up?
  • Are you thinking about dying?
  • Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
  • Do you think about suicide?
  • Have you ever thought about suicide before, or tried to harm yourself before?
  • Have you thought about how or when you’d do it?
  • Do you have access to weapons or things that can be used as weapons to harm yourself?

Looking for Warning signs

There are plenty of warning signs that your family member or friend might act on their suicidal thoughts. When someone is talking about suicide saying things like “I want to die” or “I wish I hadn’t been born” are signs that things are bad. A preoccupation with death or suicide is another indicator that I had in my own life. There are many signs, and I implore that you research the critical signs of suicide.

Asking them to Seek Help

fernando-venzano-380879-unsplash.jpgThis where things can get tricky. The first thing I recommend is to ask your family member or friend to seek professional help (this is tricky because seeking help on your own is often impossible.) But, you have to be able to make the hard choice– if he/she is suicidal, you have to call 9-1-1 or immediately take them to the hospital. It is better to be safe than sorry. Your friend or family member may hate you, I know I did when my family called the authorities on me, but if its life or death– chose life.

Suicide is a serious business. I hope what I have written here is helpful if you have anything to add please leave comments below. Know, you can always contact me if you need help.

Always Keep Fighting

James Edgar Skye

Photo Credit:

Joey Yu

Akshay Paatil

Fernando Venzano

34 Replies to “What to do When Someone is Suicidal”

      1. Np, it was very robotic. There was nothing personal about it. Seemed liked canned replies. The hotline told me it was better to text. I tried that and it was even more robotic. I think they need to be able to relate to the person. Without that, there is no rapport.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. One thing that I want to work on in the future is a better way than the hotline. Your experience is not right and should not happen. Maybe one day I will create a better platform. Know you can always message me.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. If you feel like you can keep trying, whether with this hotline or another one, you may come across someone who will actually treat you with the warmth you deserve. I’ve felt dismissed many times by mental health volunteers and even professional therapists, but I’m glad that I kept trying, because I now finally have a therapist and have had some encounters with volunteers who I have felt more supported by. I hope you find the rapport you’re looking for!

        Liked by 3 people

  1. Many months ago I was, unfortunately, in this frame of mind. It sort of comes and goes at random and my reasoning for attempting/or not have remained the same for a long time.
    Calling professional help lines should deter a person’s will and make them want to ‘be here’ tomorrow but to be put on hold or ask to text basically says ‘we don’t give a shit’. We really need to retrain the call centre staff or employ more compassionate people. Sometimes that is thing that saves lives. Great article, awesome communication.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I was faced with helping someone I don’t know who had suicidal thoughts. The first moment was of sheer panic. It is such an important thing to be talking about…someone’s life! Wow! I was scared and yet I dared.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for writing this. My youngest child is autistic. We’ve had two episodes of suicidal ideation with a plan, and multiple times without a plan. I pray that if he goes through that when I’m not there to help him, someone will know how to help him.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It is truly sad how many autistic people are suicidal, especially among the higher-functioning. I myself am autistic and struggle with thoughts like that quite often. I think a big part of it is just feeling like you’ll never really “belong” in this world.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree…not “belonging”. For him, as a teenager, he knows he’s “different” but so doesn’t want to be.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for this, James! My best friend was once suicidal. I also seemed to act like crazy at that time—I just didn’t know what to do. I thought about the worst things that could happen. I was imagining myself jumping off after she would. Whew. Thank goodness we were out of it for some time now. I still have some fears she might get back to those kinds of thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice post James, suicide hot line employees are trained to follow a manual for talking people down that’s why it seems cold and unpersonal.


    Liked by 2 people

  5. I am deeply troubled by your perception that the hotline was robotic. Although I am a professional psychotherapist and counsellor, I am also a volunteer on a hotline. I certainly hope that I do not come across in the way you describe. Glad you are still here. Keep writing, thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Very touchy subject that needs to be publicized. You did just that. I’m impressed with how you were able to simplify such a sensitive and complicated topic. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

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