What to do when someone you care about is going to hurt themselves

Friendships are some of the most important bonds we have. With real friends, we can be honest and not feel judged. We can feel safe in a way that we can’t with anyone else.

With that closeness comes the potential for lots of sharing. And sometimes a friend might share a really heavy thing — like thinking of hurting themselves or ending their life by suicide — and you’re not sure how to respond or how to act. You want to respect their feelings and privacy but you may also worry they may be in danger if you *don’t* do or say something. That’s a tough dilemma.  

One of the most important things you can do is talk to a trusted adult so that your friend can be connected to help.  You can also express your concerns and ask directly:  “Are you thinking about suicide?” Asking this question will not put thoughts of suicide in his or her mind.  In fact, asking this direct question is important.

Thankfully there are lots of great resources to help you (and your friend) in these tough situations. Here are just a few:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If you feel that your friend is at immediate risk, don’t hesitate to call 911 or your local emergency number right away. If possible, encourage them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Teen Line
If you have a problem or just want to talk with another teen who understand,  trained teen volunteers are available via text message every night from 6pm to 9pm PST. Text TEEN to 839-563 or visit the website for a message board or to download their app.

Know the Signs
Learn how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, how to find the words to have a direct conversation with someone in crisis, and where to find professional help and resources. 

My Friend Is Talking About Suicide. What Should I Do?

Youth Suicide Warning Signs
If you are concerned about someone, ask yourself these important questions and learn what to do.

How to Help A Friend (Video)

Suicide Prevention 101 Prezi Presentation
This Prezi provides information about suicide prevention, how to help a friend, and the Directing Change Program, which offers ways youth can get involved in suicide prevention.

Directing Change Suicide Prevention Films
Watch films created by young people about suicide prevention and how to help.

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