Learn the warning signs and what to do.
Among young people, friends sometimes let friends know if they are thinking about suicide or dying. Other times, they don't say anything, but their behavior communicates that they are struggling emotionally. Any of the following warning signs and risk factors should prompt you to express concern, ask about suicidal thoughts and plans, and help your friends get help.
How could anyone want to die?
Many people are unable to see alternatives to their problems or an end to their pain. Many who consider dying by suicide still want to live: your friend may have mixed feelings about acting on their thoughts of suicide. By recognizing his or her risk and getting him or her to help, a life can be saved.
Go ahead and ask.
Your friend may hint or joke about suicide, but it is important to take all communications about suicide seriously. It is safe to ask directly, "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" Talking about suicide does not cause suicide. If you have difficulty asking the youth about his or her thoughts, enlist and adult to help you. Or call Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and the trained counselors there will help you.
Don't keep secrets.
Rather than promising your friend to keep their thoughts of suicide a secret, tell him or her you can help, but you need to involve other people. True friends will remain your friend, even if he or she does not initially agree with your approach to help-seeking. Your efforts to help another will not overlooked. Keeping secrets about suicide can have devastating consequences that could affect you for a long time.
Show your interest and support without judgment. Don't interrupt, and don't give advice. Express concern and tell your friend that you will get him/her help together. Simply showing a friend that you care enough to listen can be lifesaving.
Stay with your friend.
Don't leave a suicidal friend alone. Go with him or her to a mental health professional, hospital emergency room, or his or her doctor.
Move out of harm's way.
If there are firearms, drugs, or other means of suicide in his or her house, remove them until the crisis has passed. Make inaccessible anything that might be used by your friend in an impulsive moment.
Take care of yourself.
Helping a suicidal friend is stressful. Make sure you get support: talk to a friend or family member and get good food, rest, exercise, and whatever else you need.