What to do if someone you know says they’re going to commit suicide

by Michele Arnold on August 30, 2013 · 19 comments

in suicide

“I’m going to kill myself.”

What do you do if someone tells you he or she is going to kill themselves?
I didn’t know how to answer that question until I listened to a presentation by Tom Ellis, PsyD, ABPP, director of Psychology at The Menninger Clinic. 
I learned that first, you must remember that people thinking about taking their own lives are not thinking clearly. They’re trying to find a solution for devastating, painful, overwhelm"Rick Warren Matthew Warren suicide"ing problems, and they believe, because their brain is not physically functioning, that suicide is the answer. They have tunnel vision; they’re suffering so badly it physically hurts them; and they have zero hope. Their brain is not functioning just as people’s hearts, kidneys, knees and sciatic nerves do not function, which is why it’s ridiculous to make people feel ashamed because they have a mental health issue. Bully for Pastor Rick Warren for pointing out that lapse in logic after his son
, Matthew, took his life.
Second, be honored that the person in front of you talking about suicide trusts you.

From Dr. Ellis, I learned to say to them,

I’m listening. I’m here. I care about you. I’m scared. Let’s get some help.

I would add: “I’ll help you find a therapist.”

And: “I’ll drive and wait with you. I won’t leave you.”
I’d also add:

If you don’t like the first therapist, we’ll find one you do like. There are other solutions to your pain, and the therapist you like will help you find them. I will NOT be better off if you die. I will be worse off, and it will sadden me for the rest of my life.

Dr. Ellis said to take all suicide communication seriously. He also said it’s an act of courage for a therapist and patient to talk about suicide.
Life-saving therapists say things like, “Let’s talk about ways of keeping you safe without going to the hospital.” “Tell me about the pain that makes you want to die and what makes you want to live.”
I hope I never have to use Dr. Ellis’ wisdom, but now, at least, I feel somewhat prepared.
Does anyone reading this post know of any religion that sanctifies, encourages or in any way endorses taking one’s life?

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne W. Lupton November 27, 2017 at 10:34 am

We’re sorry to hear you’re in such pain, and encourage you to seek help. If you don’t already have a therapist, you can check out the websites for NAMI (https://www.nami.org/Find-Support) and even Psychology Today (https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/?utm_source=PT_Psych_Today&utm_medium=House_Link&utm_campaign=PT_TopNavF_Therapist). And you can always call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Room for help. Good luck.

alexandara November 22, 2017 at 6:58 pm

im almost committed with depression because people like to compare me with others and im feeling horrible and useless for everybody, one day, people start to teasing me in a rough way and i start to cutting myself with needle and lastly with dagger, people never notice me, im feeling set aside, every night too hard to sleep, there’s nobody will stand for me so i decide to kill myself slowly

Anne W. Lupton June 5, 2017 at 10:48 am

Please don’t kill yourself; suicide is not the answer. We’re sorry to hear about your distress, and we urge you to get help. Call 911 if you need immediate help. You can also reach out to your therapist if you have one. If not, the following resources can help you find one: NAMI, Mental Health America and Psychology Today, which offers a national listing of mental health professionals. Good luck, and we hope you feel better soon.

Breanne June 3, 2017 at 12:32 pm

I want to kill myself because I think the guy I like knows something that very embarrassing and I don’t want to see him or his friends or the school ever again should just kill myself or continue to cut?

Edward McLaren April 14, 2017 at 6:09 pm

One of my friends (Gemma) was chatting to their boyfriend (let’s call him Roger) and Roger just came out with he was going to commit suicide on a social chat messenger, my friend kept messaging​ him, but he didn’t return a message, this lead to her thinking Roger was dead, luckily one of Rogers friends was with him and texted Gemma saying he was fine. I suggested that if this happens again she calls for the police and an ambulance​. But what more could she have done?

ekemp3 April 5, 2017 at 7:33 am
Anne W. Lupton September 1, 2016 at 9:57 am

If you think he might be at immediate risk of attempting suicide, please call 911. If you are looking for a therapist or support group for him, there are several sources you might try: the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America, and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. You can also Google the psychiatric society or psychological association in your city; those organizations usually have a list of clinicians in your community. Also, Psychology Today has a national list of clinicians on their website. Good luck to you and your son, and thanks for reaching out.

mandy August 30, 2016 at 12:32 pm

My son keeps telling me is so unhappy with his life and he is a loser and wants to die. How can I help my son?

Anne W. Lupton April 1, 2016 at 3:13 pm

We would recommend that you urge him to go to his nearest Emergency Room or call the National Suicide Prevention Help Line at 800-273-8255.

dawn April 1, 2016 at 5:07 am

My sons father keeps texting me that he want to kill himself because of me.
He also wont tell me where he is at because he don’t want me to try and
stop him, how can i get him help!

Aquamarine February 19, 2016 at 4:12 am

So I tell one of my closest friends:

“I’m here for you. Let me help you find a therapist.”

She’ll translate that to “You’re mental and you need help.”

Hahahaha…no. I think I’ll pass.

If I convince her to see a therapist I’ll have to tell her parents she’s attempted suicide on numerous occasions and was thinking of doing it again. I know my friend would see me telling her parents this betrayal.

So here I am, stuck. Completely and utterly.

Adi June 16, 2015 at 12:20 am

Idk what to do someone I know told me goodbye that they where going to kill themselves and I don’t know where they live I don’t know what to do he won’t answer his phone

maude March 19, 2015 at 4:20 pm

People who are contemplating suicide may be the sanest of us all.

Zoey July 28, 2014 at 9:21 pm

My friend cuts herself……and the other day she tried to commit suicide….I dont know if she will ever try to again but in case, i have 911 on speed dial and her address in my phone. She told me that if I’m her friend i wont tell anyone she cuts herself or has suicidal thoughts. I already told my two friends, who are also friends with her, the situation. They cant talk to my friend themselves because my friend will know i told them. But they tell me what to tell my friend. This website helped me alot and if she does write a suicide note to my friends and I, tey will occupy her while i call 911. If anyone has anymore ways i can help her please let me know!

Assuman July 25, 2014 at 9:01 pm

I would like to inform Clifford that suicide is rampant in the Christian majority west than in Muslim majority countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia or Qatar. In fact Islam prevents suicide because it sanctifies life and committing suicide is a grave sin Islam. So saying “Islam does all the time” is being myopic and out of context.

Charles L February 20, 2014 at 4:14 pm

“I learned that first, you must remember that people thinking about taking their own lives are not thinking clearly”

Really? Every single person considering suicide is not thinking clearly?

The hubris in this statement is appalling.

CLIFFORD January 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm


Alexis October 13, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Thank you for sharing Rose. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ bless and protect you and your family today and always!!!

Rose September 26, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Wikipedia has some great information about suicide and religion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_on_suicide
My grandfather committed suicide and my sister attempted suicide. I also have contemplated suicide in order to rid myself of depression. However, Jesus keeps telling me not to do it and things will get better. I have to have faith in that, or I will be lost.

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