When one thinks of suicide or how to help someone who is suicidal, there are so many questions that come to mind. “How do I ask them? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I say something that makes them start thinking of suicide?” These questions are very common and the concerns and fears behind them are all very understandable. Monument Health Hospital and Behavioral Services are here to help. This information will provide some basic information on starting conversations and getting help.
Signs and symptoms of teen depression:
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities
- Poor school performance
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Restlessness and agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Suicide warning signs to watch for
- Talking or joking about committing suicide
- Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out”
- Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love me more”)
- Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide
- Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury
- Giving away prized possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time
- Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves
What can you do to help?
- Take Notice. Ask questions like “Are you ok?” It is important for the person to know that you are present and paying attention.
- Be Present. Saying things like “I am concerned about ….” Or “This is new for you, please tell me about how you are feeling.”
- Ask Directly. Using the word Suicide is not bad. It will not put ideas in their heads or encourage them to act on the feelings. Asking if someone is thinking about suicide directly is actually beneficial due to being clear.
- Get Help. Do not leave that person alone or brush this information off. “Let’s get your parents and we can make a safety plan together.” Or “Thank you for telling me the truth. Would you like to call the hotline together or we can go to the ED.” It is important to remember that the person needs you so stay with them while accessing support services.
- Check in. Call the person later and make sure they are still safe and following the plan you worked out. Let them know that you plan to be there to help them through coming days and weeks and that you are proud of them for their honest and courage to share.
Resources for Youth
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- You Matter Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Your Life Your Voice Call: 1-800-448-3000. Text: Free every day, 6PM to midnight (CST); Text VOICE to 20121 to start.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- The Trevor Project
- TrevorLifeline: A crisis intervention and suicide prevention phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386.
- TrevorText: Available on Fridays (4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET / 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. PT). Text the word “Trevor” to
- 1-202-304-1200. Standard text messaging rates apply.
- TrevorSpace: A social networking site for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth ages 13 through 24, and their friends and allies.
- The Trevor Support Center: A place where LGBTQ youth and their allies can find answers to frequently asked questions, and explore resources related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.
- National Runaway Safeline – 1-800-RUNAWAY(1-800-786-2929)
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline
- American Counseling Association’s Find a Counselor Page