how to help someone who is suicidal

I’m Concerned About Someone

Everyone has hard times. Sometimes things get really bad – and it feels like you can’t keep going. Many people have been there, and if you think your friend might be, please take him/her seriously. The warning signs on this page are listed so that you can recognize depression or suicidal thinking in a friend – and if you do see it, do not panic, and do not leave. Your friend needs help from a mental health professional – it is not up to you to save him/her.

Depression is not just a mood swing, and it’s not something that you can just “get over.” It’s a medical illness of the brain, when our body’s chemical balance is just shy of perfect. Just as you would reach out to a doctor for a broken leg, reach out to a mental health professional if you recognize these signs that the mind is not healthy. There is nothing wrong with your friend, and it is not his/her fault that he/she is sick. Depression is not a choice, but getting help is. You have that power to reach out for help that will make a difference. Whether that help is for yourself or for a friend, don’t just hope it goes away. It doesn’t. Depression is more than a mood, it’s an illness. And it can be life-threatening when it’s not treated.

Signs of Depression

Depression does not just look like sadness, so it can be hard to recognize. If you can identify with more than a few symptoms from the checklist below, lasting for at least two weeks, you need to seek help from your doctor or a mental health professional.

  • Irritability, restlessness, increased anger and/or fighting
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities; isolation
  • Feelings of hopelessness or desperation
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or shame
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Declining school performance
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, and feeling “slowed down”
  • Decreased ability to concentrate, remember, or make decisions
  • Increased alcohol and/or drug use
  • Thoughts of death, suicide, or wishes to be dead


Suicide Danger Signals

Suicide danger signals should always be taken seriously. If you see these signs in your friend, take action immediately. Do not keep this secret. Try to encourage him/her to reach out to an adult for help. And if he/she will not, voice your concern. If you think your friend is in immediate danger, call 911.

Otherwise, call the professionals at FrontLine Service at 216-623-6888 for help. They are trained to handle crisis situations.

Be on the lookout for:

  • Worsening depression – unrelenting low mood, hopelessness, withdrawal, anxiety and inner tension, pessimism, sleep problems or desperation
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
  • Recent impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks
  • Threatening suicide or expressing a strong wish to die
  • Suddenly happier, calmer
  • Unexpected rage or anger
  • Making a plan
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Unusual visiting or calling friends/ loved ones
  • Sudden or impulsive purchase of a firearm
  • Obtaining other means of killing oneself such as poisons or medications
  • Preparing to leave family & friends behind  
  • If you recognize these signs in yourself or in a friend, take action. Reach out to a professional right away by clicking on the button below or texting 741741. Then get a trusted adult in your life involved, who can help facilitate treatment to help you get through this.

How to Help

If you sense danger right now, call 911.
At school, contact your guidance counselor, nurse, health teacher or principal.

For crisis help, call FrontLine Service at 216-623-6888 or text 741741.

When helping your friend, follow this list of Do’s and Don’ts as a guide:


  • Reach out
  • Show that you care
  • Encourage your friend to talk
  • Stay calm
  • Listen with concern and without passing judgment
  • Ask the suicide question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” 
  • Assess the danger. Does your friend have a suicide plan?  Does your friend have access to the means to take his/her life? Has he/she attempted suicide before? 
  • Offer hope that he/she will not always feel this way 
  • Tell an adult and get help from a mental health professional
  • Offer to go with your friend to get help


  • Keep your friend’s suicide plan a secret
  • Make your friend’s problem sound unimportant
  • Act shocked
  • Try to take any weapon away from your friend
  • Leave your friend alone when he/she is in crisis
  • Assume that your friend is simply having a bad day
  • Take on the responsibility of your friend’s safety by yourself
  • Stop being a good friend, no matter what
  • Lose patience if your friend rejects your help
  • Give up hope

It is hard when someone you are close to feels this way – but it is very important to be supportive during this time and help him/her get the professional help that is needed.  Being a good friend is the best thing that you can do.

If you need help, reach out for it. People who are trained and able to help are one button away.