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.