It’s tough to start the conversation about suicide. Whether you need help or want to help someone else, here are some resources to help you take the first step toward hope and healing.
I need help
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, tell someone right away. You can:
- Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
- Talk to someone, such as a friend, family member, counselor or teacher.
- Call or text the suicide prevention lifeline at 988. The lifeline is always open and is free and confidential.
Remember, you are not alone. There is always someone who cares.
I want to help someone else
If you’re worried about a friend, family member or classmate, you can help by:
- Staying with them when they are in crisis.
- Calling the suicide prevention lifeline 988 on their behalf.
- Going with them to talk to a trusted adult.
- Helping them move to a safe location or removing dangerous items from the area.
- Standing up against bullying. Be an advocate for others who are struggling.
What are the warning signs of suicide?
Suicide is preventable. Talking to someone about suicide will not make them more likely to act—in fact, research shows that providing support and talking about suicide is helpful to people in crisis.
Watch for these signs and tell a trusted adult if you have concerns:
- Often talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide.
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless.
- Expressions of having no reason for living; no sense of purpose in life; saying things like "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out."
- Increased alcohol and/or drug misuse.
- Withdrawal from friends, family and community.
- Detaching themselves from their daily activities; not wanting to do things that brought them joy.
- Reckless behavior or more risky activities, seemingly without thinking.
- Dramatic mood changes or not acting like their usual self.
- Talking about feeling trapped or being a burden to others.
What should I say?
There’s no question that suicide is a difficult topic to discuss. Here are a few ideas for how to start a conversation with someone you’re concerned about:
- “A lot of people have times when they are depressed, anxious and struggling. Sometimes it even gets to the point that they wish they were not alive anymore. Is that something that’s ever happened to you?” ...stop and listen...
- “I was reading about how lots of kids and teens are struggling with their mental health these days. I want you to know you can always come to me if you are struggling. How is your mental health these days?” ...stop and listen... “Have you ever had suicidal thoughts? Have those happened recently?”
- “I’ve noticed you haven’t been doing _________ [activity the person usually enjoys] much lately. What changed?” ...stop and listen...
- “I was reading about how September is suicide prevention month, and I learned that lots of people suffer in silence, but that talking about suicidal thoughts is an important way to keep people safe. I’m a safe person to talk to—is there anything that’s been on your mind lately?” ...stop and listen...
Help for parents and caregivers
Parents and caregivers, try to find a regular time to check in with teens that works for them. Often that means not right after school/work/practice, during other demands like chores or homework, or when you yourself are stressed or anxious.
Dr. Shayla Sullivant from the Developmental and Behavioral Health team at Children's Mercy has developed a video series just for parents and caregivers of tweens and teens.
View the Prepped and Ready videos.