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What do I say to someone in non crisis or crisis situation??

The hard questions to ask and techniques you can learn in our mental health classes.

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Are you going to kill yourself?

Are you thinking about suicide?

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I'm not sure what to say, and I want to help. Can you tell me specifically how you're feeling or what might be making you feel this way?



Thank you for telling me. Do you want me to listen or brainstorm solutions?

Some of these questions are hard to ask and that is why it is important to practice and get educated.

Other tips and tricks:
  1. Be blunt. Do not "beat around the bush". The brain likes clarity and it is important to remove our own insecurities and biases when we are trying to support someone else.
  2. If you ask the question about suicide, the next questions to ask are:
    • How:  
      • Have you decided how you're going to kill yourself?
    • When:
      • Have you decided when you will do it?
      • (This helps you find out if they have a plan and how much time you have to seek professional help. Even if they say next week or next month, do not wait to seek help, they are still in a crisis no matter the timeline given, now is the time)
    • Needs/Means/Way:
      • Have you gotten the things you need to kill yourself? 
  3. If they do NOT have a plan then maybe they just need someone to listen non-judgmentally, without trying to fix or giving advice. Instead having someone they can trust to simply listen and allow whatever they are thinking or feeling to come out without getting in trouble or feeling more like a burden. This helps not feel so alone and some times being able to express how badly they are feeling is what a person needs to start on the road to recovery.
  4. If they DO say yes and have a plan, plus give you all or some of the info above: Call, Text or Chat 988 or use one of the phone numbers below or call 911 (if they are in active crisis)
  5. And VERY IMPORTANT...tell the dispatcher that you need the "crisis team or mobile mental health crisis team" so they send out a unit that is trained for this situation. Give the dispatcher all or as much information as you can so that they know who they should send out. 
  1. Do not play the blame or guilt game, do not threaten punitive action or try to make them feel bad about how they are feeling or what they are experiencing.  Avoid saying things like: "If you kill yourself, I'm not going to your funeral", "If you kill yourself, you are not going to heaven", "If you loved me, you wouldn't kill yourself", "If you loved your family, you wouldn't do this". "What are your kids going to do without you".
  2. Don't wait if someone is talking about killing themselves or expressing suicidal thoughts, they are in active crisis and now is the time to get them help whether it is professional, or finding more resources for them by calling, texting or chatting with hotlines. You can utilize these lines and they can walk you through how to help someone. (Feelings of action towards suicide is time limited, we can move them through these feelings)
Why shouldn't we say things like this?
  • Because it is not about you, not about the family, the act of suicide is NOT selfish, the act is self less, it doesn't mean they don't love you or want to be with you.
  • It also doesn't always mean they don't want to be alive. Some times they just want the "pain" to end. Or maybe they don't know another way out of whatever situation they are currently in.
  • Sometimes talking about suicide is a way of expressing just how badly they are feeling.
  • Again it is not about you, it is about them, it is about what they are feeling or experiencing. 
  • Some of the reason's people choose to die by suicide may be because they feel like a burden, they feel like they have no other way out of whatever situation that they are currently facing. It can also be side effects from a mental health or substance use challenge, medication, a traumatized brain, triggers or other factors. Or they want the pain to end and the only option they feel like they have is to end their life.
Things to say: 
  1. Can we call 988 together to get extra support, as I am not sure how to help?
  2. When is now a good time to get help to start feeling better?
  3. Are you going to kill yourself? Are you thinking about suicide?
  4. I hear that you want to kill yourself, I'm curious what is making you feel like this is the only option?
  5. Parrot phrase, use their words exactly to help their brain clarify if that is what they are really trying to say. 
  6. I am not a professional in this space, however I am here for you and can listen to whatever you would like to tell me. No judgement, whatever you're feeling. 
Other pointers:
  1. Keep in mind with youth, their brains are not fully developed till 25-28 yrs old, and the rational part of the brain is the last to develop, so things are really, really, real to them. People being mean, losing a relationship, being bullied, not getting picked for a team, getting a D when they are an A student, having to leave their friends, not having friends, etc. They do not understand that tomorrow is a new day and they can move through whatever experience they are going through. It can feel like the end of the world to them and no matter what you say won't make it be better. So listening is very important and brainstorming solutions can be effective here. 
  2. It is okay if you, yourself are not okay to support someone. Be mindful of your own state and if you're in a place that you can help someone. If you're not, search out a coach or professional to help instead. 
  3. Trying to talk someone out of killing themselves is never going to work. Listen nonjudgmentally, ask open ended questions and validate their feelings, are what they need. If they are talking to you, telling you about these thoughts, then they are seeking help, this is GOOD.
  4. Get connected with us, sign up for our community or newsletter or find us on any social media or YouTube. The Founder is always posting Live videos with tips and information.
  5. Most people do not want to die, they want the pain or the situation that they are currently facing to go away and they don’t know another way out. 
  6. Or they may be experiencing what we call a split or psychotic break and reality is no longer reality.
  7. Suicidal thoughts are time limited, if you can get them through the emotions of taking action on their thoughts and get them to professional help then you have a higher chance of saving their life. 
  8. More than likely the thoughts will come back, that is why it is so important to build a personal safety/self-care plan and ask their mental health care professional for case management, so that all the dots connect and they do not "fall through the cracks". Recovery is possible!
  9. Please know, if someone ends up dying by suicide, overdose or another mental health challenge, it is not your fault, we do the best we can with the resources that we have available and unfortunately people still die no matter what we do.
  10. Research has shown that we lose the most people to suicide within 3 months of a period of improvement, this is why we need to make sure there is follow up and we get them connected to a professional that can help them along the road of recovery. 
  11. There are 2 things that have been shown to be very effective in saving lives: Connection and Community. Get connected into a community that is helpful not hurtful. 
  12. The best way to help others is to get educated yourself. Take one of our mental health classes or do further research. There are tons of resources under Trusted Resource Hub.
  13. Again, if for some reason they choose to take their life, I want you to know it is NOT your fault and sometimes no matter what we do, people die by suicide. 
Supporting Your Loved Ones After A Suicide Attempt from AFSP

Need Immediate Help In An Emergency?

If you or a loved one is in immediate danger calling 911 and talking with police may be necessary.

IMPORTANT: notify the operator that it is a mental health emergency and ask for police officers trained in crisis intervention or the "mobile crisis team".

Need Immediate Help In A Crisis?

Crisis Text Line – Text "HOME" to 741-741
Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message

Need More Resources? Check out our Trusted Resource Hub


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Do you have someone in your life that has lost a loved one to suicide or maybe you have? Or know someone who has attempted and you need more resources of how to help them?

Send them one of our Carrie Cares Packages
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