More than 1,100 lives are lost to suicide in Washington each year. Concerned about a loved one? Don’t know how to talk about suicide? Explore these steps. You can help save a life.
L: Look for signs
- Talking, joking or researching about death
- Feeling hopeless, depressed, trapped, irritable, agitated, anxious, ashamed, humiliated or burdensome
- Changes in personality, academic/work performance, sleep, withdrawing from friends/activities.
- Increasing abuse of alcohol/drugs, reckless behavior, giving away possessions.
E: Empathize and Listen
- Most importantly, just listen.
- Listen with compassion, remain calm, avoid judgement, and validate their feelings.
- Don’t offer quick fixes, tell them everything will be OK, show anger, panic or ask “why” questions
- People who have survived suicide attempts report what was more helpful to them – just listen.
A: Ask directly about suicide
- Ask in a way that invites an honest response. Use any signs you’ve noticed as part of the ask.
- Be direct. Use the word “suicide” and be prepared for a yes.
- Asking about suicide does not cause suicide.
R: Reduce the Danger
- Reducing access to items used for suicide is an evidence-based approach to preventing suicide.
- If they say yes, ask them “Do you have a plan?” “Do you have access to those means?”
- Lock up & limit access to firearms, prescription medications, over-the-counter medications. In time of crisis, lock up alcohol & drugs, belts, ropes, cords, plastic bags, knives, car keys, chemicals, poison.
N: Next steps
- Together with the person at risk, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, by dialing 988.
- If the person will not agree to stay safe, do not leave them alone. Call 911.