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How to Help A Friend


Warning signs
What to do
Be aware of feelings
Contact help
Back to Things You Should Know About Suicide

Be Aware of the Warning Signs

There is no typical suicide victim. It happens to young and old, rich and poor. Fortunately there are some common warning signs which, when acted upon, can save lives. Here are some signs to look for:

A suicidal person might be suicidal if he or she:

  • Talks about committing suicide
  • Has trouble eating or sleeping
  • Experiences drastic changes in behavior
  • Withdraws from friends and/or social activities
  • Loses interest in hobbies, work, school, etc.
  • Prepares for death by making out a will and final arrangements
  • Gives away prized possessions
  • Has attempted suicide before
  • Takes unnecessary risks
  • Has had recent severe losses
  • Is preoccupied with death and dying
  • Loses interest in their personal appearance
  • Increases their use of alcohol or drugs

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What To Do

Here are some ways to be helpful to someone who is threatening suicide:

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Donít debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad. Donít lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Donít dare him or her to do it.
  • Donít act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Donít be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

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Be Aware of Feelings

Many people at some time in their lives think about committing suicide. Most decide to live, because they eventually come to realize that the crisis is temporary and death is permanent. On other hand, people having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. These are some of the feelings and things they experience:

  • Canít stop the pain
  • Canít think clearly
  • Canít make decisions
  • Canít see any way out
  • Canít sleep, eat or work
  • Canít get out of depression
  • Canít make the sadness go away
  • Canít see a future without pain
  • Canít see themselves as worthwhile
  • Canít get someoneís attention
  • Canít seem to get control

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If you experience these feelings, get help! If someone you know exhibits these symptoms, offer help!


  • A community mental health agency
  • A private therapist or counselor
  • A school counselor or psychologist
  • A family physician
  • A suicide prevention or crisis center

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(c) American Association Of Suicidology

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Copyright © 2004 The Ink Pen Publishing Company  Last modified: 07/03/2005 08:03 PM