Feeling suicidal is a distressing experience. Although a person can feel out of control and hopeless when they are suicidal, there are many forms of support available.

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There are many free resources available to people who feel suicidal.

Boys Town National Hotline

Boys Town National Hotline helps children, families, and communities who are experiencing addiction, abandonment, and violence.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free suicide prevention support, 24 hours per day, across the United States.

ULifeline

ULifeline provides anonymous, confidential support to college students.

Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education

Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education offer support to Asian American people during times of crisis.

  • Phone: 877-990-8525 (Asian LifeNet Hotline in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, and Fujianese.)
  • Website: http://www.aaspe.net/

Crisis Text Line

The Crisis Text Line connects users to a crisis counselor for free, 24 hours per day.

The Trevor Project

LGBTQIA+ youth can access support from The Trevor Project through a hotline, online chat, and text service.

The Trevor Project also offer online support resources.

  • Phone: 866-488-7386 (24 hours per day)
  • Text: START 678678 (Monday to Friday 3 p.m.–10 p.m. EST or 12 p.m.–7 p.m. PST)
  • Online chat: TrevorCHAT (Monday to Friday 3 p.m.–10 p.m. EST or 12 p.m.–7 p.m. PST).
  • Website: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

The Veterans Crisis Line

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free and confidential support from qualified responders from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 24 hours per day.

If a person is experiencing suicidal thoughts or feeling that they are at risk of suicide, reaching out to friends, family, or confidential hotlines provides quick support during distressing times.

Helping someone who feels suicidal

If a person is feeling suicidal, they may not feel able to find and access support themselves. This is where loved ones can help.

Suicidal thoughts and attempts to end a life can be difficult to understand for people who have not experienced these difficulties before. However, it is possible to help a person who is feeling suicidal.

Often, people who want to take their own life are conflicted about doing so and can be looking for other ways to relieve their pain. A person can point out alternative methods of relief, offer support to improve their mood, and help them manage any mental health conditions that may be distressing them.

Encouraging a person to make positive, achievable lifestyle changes — such as eating a healthful diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep — can all help improve low mood.

A person can also support someone who feels suicidal by accompanying them to doctor’s appointments or therapy sessions.

Talking about suicide can make some people nervous, but talking to a person who is experiencing suicidal feelings can make a difference. A person who feels suicidal may benefit from the opportunity to express their feelings.

Regularly checking on the person who is feeling suicidal or experiencing severe low mood can reassure them that they are not alone.

It is important to note that someone who feels suicidal should not be left alone.

Talking about suicide

The following strategies can help guide a positive conversation about suicide:

  • Listen to their thoughts and feelings.
  • Be sympathetic to their concerns and problems.
  • Reassure them that they are not alone and that support is available.
  • Take their concerns and feelings seriously.
  • Do not argue with the person’s outlook on life or their feelings.
  • Do not make the person feel guilty about their suicidal thoughts.

If a person is at immediate risk of suicide, try asking them whether or not they have planned their suicide, if they have the means to carry it out, if they have a set date or time, and if they intend to carry out their suicide.

It is worth noting that a mental health professional can make an assessment of risk based on their responses to these questions. It is, therefore, more useful if a professional asks them.

If possible, be quick to respond to a person who is feeling suicidal. Remove any potentially dangerous or lethal objects from the environment around the person, and do not leave them on their own.

If a person is at high risk of suicide, immediately call a crisis center or 911. A person can also take someone who is at risk of suicide to an emergency room for help.

Risk factors are elements in a person’s life that may make them more likely to consider, attempt, or die by suicide.

Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia can contribute to suicide risk. Previous suicide attempts can also increase the risk that a person will attempt suicide again.

Alcohol and substance abuse are also risk factors for suicide, along with regular or easy access to lethal means, such as drugs or weapons.

A person who has experienced abuse or trauma or who does not have a support network may also be at higher risk of suicide.

Other risk factors may include:

  • relationship problems
  • a crisis in the past or upcoming 2 weeks
  • financial problems
  • job insecurity
  • legal problems
  • housing problems

Teenagers and young adults

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading causing of death in people aged 10–34.

Risk factors for suicide in teenagers and young adults may include:

  • mental health conditions
  • alcohol or substance abuse
  • struggles with sexual orientation
  • bullying
  • an abusive or violent home environment
  • childhood abuse
  • mental health stigma
  • reduced access to health facilities

Adults

According to the CDC, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in people aged 35–54.

Risk factors for suicide in adults may include:

  • previous suicide attempts
  • mental health conditions
  • financial, housing, or career problems
  • relationship problems and abuse
  • reduced access to health facilities
  • access to lethal means
  • alcohol and substance abuse
  • limiting medical conditions
  • the loss of loved ones

Older adults

The CDC state that suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among people aged 55–64.

Risk factors for older adults may include:

  • a loss of independence or purpose
  • retirement
  • mental health conditions
  • previous suicide attempts
  • medical conditions that limit independence or life expectancy
  • impulsive behaviors due to cognitive conditions
  • social isolation
  • the loss of loved ones
  • alcohol or substance abuse

There are several warning signs that suggest that a person is considering suicide.

For example, they may regularly talk about death or suicide, feeling hopeless, and not having a purpose in life. They may also say that their pain is unbearable and that they have no way out.

A person may also consume alcohol or take drugs to relieve their low mood, or they may engage in dangerous or reckless behavior.

People who feel suicidal may isolate themselves from friends and family, sleep a lot or not enough, and easily become anxious and agitated.

There are several harmful misconceptions about suicide that can hurt those who feel suicidal. The following are some examples of these misconceptions:

  • Talking to someone about suicide will give them the idea to take their own life.
  • People who talk about suicide just want attention.
  • There is nothing a person can do to stop someone who has decided to take their own life.

These misconceptions are not true and may only increase a person’s pain.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts needs support from a mental health professional. If a person is at immediate risk of suicide, they need help very quickly.

A mental health professional can help determine why someone is suicidal and offer an appropriate treatment plan.

A person should contact the emergency services or a crisis center if another person:

  • threatens to hurt or kill themselves
  • says that they want to die and that they have access to lethal means, such as drugs or weapons
  • searches for ways to hurt or kill themselves
  • tries to access lethal means, such as drugs or weapons
  • talks or writes about suicide, either in person or through social media

People can improve their outlook by seeking help from doctors, mental health organizations, and loved ones.

Talking about their problems and any concerns they have about their suicidal behaviors can also help improve a person’s outcome.

Friends and family can help by familiarizing themselves with the warning signs and offering support if they notice any.

The National Institute of Mental Health state that suicide is a major public health risk and one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

According to the CDC, in 2018, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., with over 48,000 people dying by it.

There are several warning signs that signal that a person may be feeling suicidal. Seeking support quickly can stop someone from hurting themselves or taking their own life.

There are many free and confidential support systems available throughout the U.S., including hotlines, text services, live chat services. Friends, family, and mental health professionals can also help.