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General Info

What should I do to help


Suicidal feelings can be overwhelming for the person who is experiencing them. It also can be difficult to watch the person we care about struggle with these emotions. The stigma around mental health problems and suicide often keeps people from asking for help when the most need it.


If they have talked with you, they trust you with their feelings. Listen, with compassion and without judgment. It can allow a loved one to relieve some of the desperate and painful feelings they are experiencing and may prevent a suicide attempt. It is also important to take some kind of action. Someone who shares their suicidal thoughts is letting you know that they need help, and it can be life threatening if they do not get the help needed. 


As a person who wants to help, we are often left with questions of what to do. Should you take them seriously? Will your intervention make things worse? What do you say? Will they be mad at me for telling someone who I think can help them? It might feel very confusing, but we have outlined ways that can make it a little easier.



Do ask your loved one if he or she is okay. Agree on how many times each day you will ask.


Do agree on a way to communicate. Talking, writing, texting – even drawing - are ways your loved one may communicate feelings and ask for help.


Do listen to your loved one.


Don’t argue about how your loved one is feeling, even if it is uncomfortable to hear.


Do ask about suicide. Use words like “suicide” or “kill yourself.”


Do ask about a plan for suicide.  If they have a plan, get them help right away.


Don’t ask if they are thinking of doing something “crazy” or “stupid” or “drastic.” Say “suicide” when you mean “suicide.”


Don’t leave your loved one alone if he or she cannot agree on a way to remain safe.


Do assure them that the intensity of their feelings will pass.


Don’t judge their feelings or lecture about how you think your loved one should feel. Remember that thoughts of suicide are a result of not being able to think clearly through their pain.


Do fill out My Safety Plan and remind him or her to follow the steps.


Do remove guns, poisons and alcohol from the home.


Do make sure your loved one takes medication as prescribed.


Do make sure you loved one keeps counseling appointments.


Do call or go to the hospital if things get worse.


Don’t make promises of confidentiality. If someone is feeling suicidal, keeping this information a secret can be very dangerous.  A person who is feeling suicidal needs help and support so that they don’t act on those feelings.


Do contact a professional or responsible adult if your concerned about your loved one feeling suicidal.



The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:

  • Do you intend to commit suicide or try to kill yourself?
  • Do you have a suicide plan?  What is it?
  • Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)?
  • Do you know when you would do it?


The more detail in the answers, the higher the risk for a suicide attempt. If an attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, dial 911, or take the person to an emergency room.


In addition to helping those who are feeling suicidal there are populations in which suicide is seen more frequently. Those groups are: Teens, Elderly Men, Veterans and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Intersexual Youth (LGBTQI).



What should I say?


Here are a few ideas of what to say. You know your loved one best, so use what makes sense for you.


“I love you and want to make sure you stay safe.” In order to do that, we need to agree on a couple of things. I’m going to be asking you if you’re okay, so let’s decide how often I’m going to ask. You also need to agree to be honest when you answer the question.” This agreement to communicate is an important first step.


“Let’s talk when we’re calmer.” Arguments between you and your loved one can easily occur at this point. Strong words can result in more pain for both of you. Try to avoid a confrontation when emotions are running high.


“I love you…I’m proud of you…you are so important to me…we’re going to get through this together.” Sometimes a person who is feeling depressed or anxious or desperate becomes convinced that other people would be better off without him or her. Keep the encouragement coming so your loved one hears how important he or she is to you and to other people.


“You seem so sad (or withdrawn or angry or worried or…). What’s going on?” Identify a feeling and give your loved one a chance to talk about it. Their feelings won’t always make sense to you. Sometimes the things we feel aren’t logical. So don’t lecture. Just listen. It does help to get their feelings out.


“Are you thinking about killing yourself?...How would you do it?” These are such difficult questions. Ask them anyway. The answers tell you what you need to know to keep your loved one safer. Is there something in your house your young person is tempted to use to hurt or kill himself? Remove it. Can your young person agree on a way to stay safe? If not, it may be time to go to the hospital.


“Remember that time you felt so bad? You got through it and you can get through this.” It helps to be reminded that intense feelings pass, just like storm clouds. There is hope!

Tool Kit LinkSafety Plan Cards LinkNewsletter Link


800-273-TALK (8255)


Macomb County Suicide Prevention Coalition
The Macomb County Suicide Prevention Coalition (MCSPC) is incorporated as a stand-alone charitable organization governed by concerned professionals and citizens. The MCSPC is not a corporate affiliate of either Macomb County Community Mental Health or the County of Macomb.

The contents of this website were made possible by the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrating Schools and Mental Health Systems Grant. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government