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Frequently asked questions

Understanding how to help prevent suicides in Indiana and get closer to achieving our goal of zero suicides in Indiana.

What is a suicide prevention framework, plan or program?

A suicide prevention framework is a comprehensive plan that includes steps that all stakeholders and leaders can take to reduce suicide risk for a community or a population. It ideally includes templates and checklists so that those involved can easily monitor progress toward an established set of goals.

Any group, community or organization can compile a suicide prevention plan to work toward the two-prong goal of decreasing the number of deaths by suicide while increasing the resources available to those who need it.

What is a suicide prevention framework, plan or program toolkit?

A suicide prevention toolkit is a collection of resources and information meant to help people, groups and communities start to continue the conversation on how to decrease the suicide epidemic. Often toolkits are specifically geared toward a certain segment of the population or a specific community.

Where can I find a suicide prevention framework, plan or program toolkit?

Hoosier advocates and stakeholders at the Indiana Suicide Prevention Network developed a Suicide Prevention Planning Toolkit. The collection includes group assessments for communities, coalitions, organizations, businesses, education groups, and faith-based groups to identify risk factors, then declare objectives and activities to prevent suicides.

How to tell or know if someone is considering suicide or killing themselves?

People who are considering suicide or experiencing suicidal thoughts, commonly experience depression or anxiety. If someone close to you is showing concerning changes of behavior, you should be on alert. Advocates and mental health professionals have compiled lists of both warning signs and possible risk factors of suicide, but it should be noted that every situation is unique and different.

A partial list of warning signs includes feelings of being lost, trapped or being a burden to others, withdraw and isolation, talking about suicide (which should never be taken lightly). Behaviors such as increased drug or alcohol use, telling people goodbye or giving away prized possessions are also a few warning signs of a potential suicide attempt.

Risk factors include mental health issues or physical health problems, stress from bullying, bad relationships or job loss. People who have access to weapons or other means to carry out a suicide attempt are also considered at greater risk than those who don’t. In addition, those who have attempted suicide before, or those who are considered suicide survivors — family and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide – are also considered to be at greater risk of a future suicide attempt than the general population.

If you believe someone you love is considering suicide, ask them how they are feeling and don’t be afraid to ask them directly if they are struggling with suicidal or other self-destructive thoughts. Be ready to refer your friend to mental health resources.

How do I talk to someone considering suicide or killing themselves?

Simply being willing to engage them in conversation is a good place to start. Depending on who strikes up the conversation first, don’t be afraid to ask them direct questions, up to and including whether they are having suicidal thoughts or whether they are thinking about killing themselves.

During this often difficult conversation, don’t be patronizing or judgmental and be respectful of this person’s feelings. Offer support and reassurance but never promise to keep the person’s suicidal thoughts or behaviors a secret. Remind them that no matter how badly they feel now or what issues they are dealing with, the feeling is only temporary. Encourage them to get proper help and treatment.

What to do if a friend is considering suicide or killing themselves?

Reach out to them. Simply taking the time to notice and engage with a peer can make you the start of a positive solution. Don’t be afraid to ask them directly if they are feeling suicidal and take them seriously if they tell you that they are. Encourage them to seek help and, if the need is immediate, refer them to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or another hotline.

Make sure your friend knows that, no matter what they are struggling with, their feelings are only temporary and can be dealt with in a positive way.

What are some suicidal risk factors?

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention places risk factors into three main categories: health, environmental and historical. Health includes conditions such as depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions. Substance abuse, a traumatic brain injury or other serious physical health problems are also included in that category.

Environmental factors include prolonged stress stemming from bullying, harassment, harmful relationships, unemployment. Having easy access to firearms or other means to carry out suicide is also considered an environmental factor.

Historical factors include childhood neglect/trauma, previous suicide attempts or a family history that includes suicide.

If someone displays a few, or even many, of these risk factors, it does not automatically mean that they could be suicidal. However, their situation should be monitored. If you think someone you love is suicidal, start a conversation and ask questions in a caring, non-threatening way. It could be the connection that person needs.

How to identify suicide risk factors?

Risk factors can be at both the individual and community level. This conversation is important because talking about risk factors can help stakeholders understand how minimizing such factors will decrease suicide risk on multiple levels.

Suicide risk factors are, as their name suggests, any sort of situation or issue that increases the risk of suicide. For an individual, that can be health factors such as depression, substance abuse and physical health conditions. Environmental factors include prolonged stress stemming from bullying, harassment, bad relationships around a person. Having easy access to firearms, dugs or other items that could be used to carry out is also considered an environmental factor, as is exposure to another person’s suicide. Historical factors include previous suicide attempts or a family history of suicide. Community-level suicide risk factors include barriers to health care and mental health services, having stigma associated with seeking mental health assistance and lack of social services to support at-risk populations.

How to stop thoughts of suicide?

Please recognize that suicidal thoughts and the situations that are causing them are only temporary. If your feelings are immediately overwhelming you, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, your mental health professional or a trusted friend and talk about your situation.

No matter what, don't try to manage suicidal thoughts on your own, and remember that it is important to make your mental health a priority. Having self-destructive thoughts should not make you feel ashamed or alone. Don’t be afraid to rely on your support system when you need it most.

Talking to a mental health professional can help you identify coping strategies that fit you best as well. This prepares you for a future where you are better equipped to handle any self-destructive feelings in a positive way.

What to do if I’m thinking of committing suicide or killing myself?

Realize that you are never alone, no matter what you are dealing with or feeling. Seek help. There are resources and people that want to help you. If the feeling is immediate, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a mental health professional or even 911.

Then, make a safety plan so you know who you can reach out to when these thoughts arise again. Making a plan maps out your steps to identify successful coping strategies in times of crisis so that you can better ensure that your environment is safe for you. You could also consider joining a support group. Many communities have a variety of groups that serve different populations, so you should be able to find one that allows you to be most comfortable.

No matter what, do not feel ashamed by your feelings or struggles. You are not the only one dealing with temporary self-destructive thoughts, and there are plenty of people right in your own community who want to help you overcome these feelings in a positive way.

Where do I get help to stop me from committing suicide or killing myself?

There are plenty of people who want to help you. Whether it’s a friend, family member, teacher or other mentor, a religious leader, law enforcement or mental health professional, turn to someone you trust and verbalize your feelings. If you are in immediate need of help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

After experiencing suicidal thought, you should make a safety plan so you know who you can reach out to when you experience these thoughts again. Having a plan will help you identify successful coping strategies in times of crisis so that you can better ensure that your environment is safe for you. You may feel alone, but you are not. There are plenty of people out there who want to help you.

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