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Helping someone contemplating suicide or killing themselves

If you think someone is contemplating suicide don’t assume that someone else has already offered help.

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Reach out and listen to their situation. Talking about suicide will not be what puts the idea in a suicidal person’s head. Instead the opposite is true. Questioning someone about possible suicidal thoughts or behaviors if done in a non-judgmental and caring way will show that person they are not alone.

Six steps from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on how to approach such a conversation

  • Talk to them in private
  • Listen to their story
  • Tell them you care about them
  • Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide
  • Encourage them to seek treatment or to contact their doctor or therapist
  • Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving unsolicited advice

No matter what they are struggling with remind them their feelings and situation are only temporary and can be dealt with in a positive way. You can’t control another person’s actions or thoughts, but you can be the source of help that they need while getting through a difficult situation.

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