What to Do If Someone Is Suicidal: Spotting the Warning Signs and Seeking Help

Woman comforts young woman who is suicidal

Having a loved one who is suicidal can be stressful and traumatic. You may be worried that someone close to you is experiencing suicidal thoughts, or you may be trying to prevent a suicide from happening. If so, here are some tips on how to handle the situation and get help.

Are you looking for ways to help a loved one who is considering suicide? Contact us at Georgetown Behavioral Hospital for professional intervention today.

What to Do If Someone Is Suicidal

It can be very hard to know what to do if someone is suicidal. That’s especially true if you have never been in that situation before. You realize that this is a critical moment. You know that the right words and actions could save their life, and the wrong ones could make matters worse. 

However, until you can get help, you might have to handle the issue on your own for a while. Here are some things you can do until you can reach a mental health professional.

Recognize the Warning Signs of Suicide

One thing that stops many people from helping a loved one who is suicidal is that they doubt whether what they are seeing are really suicidal statements and behaviors. So, they ignore the signs, thinking they must be wrong about thinking the person is suicidal. For that reason, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the warning signs of suicide. If someone may already be contemplating suicide, check through the following list to see if their words or actions match these red flags.

  • Words
    • Talking about wanting to die
    • Expressing guilt that is excessive compared to what they have done
    • Saying they are a burden to you or others
  • Expressing Feelings
    • Using words like helpless, hopeless, empty, or trapped to describe their feelings
    • Saying their emotional or physical pain is unbearable
    • Appearing extremely sad, angry, agitated, or anxious
  • Behaviors
    • Researching suicide methods
    • Making plans to commit suicide
    • Acquiring a gun, drugs, or other means to kill themselves
    • Isolating from friends and family
    • Telling people goodbye
    • Giving away once-beloved possessions
    • Making a will
    • Exhibiting mood swings
    • Changes in the amount they are eating or sleeping
    • Using alcohol or drugs more than usual

If you see signs like these, do not hesitate to seek help immediately. When a person is displaying several of these symptoms, it is far better to seek help than to assume everything will work itself out. However, in the meantime, you need to know more about what to do if someone is suicidal now, while you are trying to get them to a safe place for inpatient mental health treatment.

Know What to Say When Someone Is Suicidal

What to Say When Someone is Suicidal infographic

Knowing what to do if someone is suicidal is hard enough. It’s even scarier to know that the words you choose can have a profound impact on a suicidal person. However, if you want to help them, you need to say things that are helpful and avoid words that cause them anger or despair. Here are some dos and don’ts when you are talking to someone who is thinking about suicide.

Do say things like this:

  • “I’m listening.” These words show the suicidal person that someone cares and that they have an outlet for expressing their emotional pain.
  • “I’m here for you.” When you say this, they may realize that they are not fighting this battle alone.
  • “I don’t want you to die.” You show you value them with these words, and that may be something they need very much to hear right now.
  • “Here are some resources to help you.” Giving someone resources may give them hope that they can do something else to ease their pain.

Avoid saying things like this:

  • “I know exactly how you feel.” You don’t and can’t. Even if you have been suicidal yourself, no two people have the same experience of being suicidal.
  • “Just get over it.” Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are a mental health issue. It’s not about having the wrong attitude that you can just change in an instant.
  • “Other people have faced harder things than you are facing.” Words like this tell the suicidal person that their feelings don’t matter to anyone.

Keep your communications as simple and caring as possible, showing you value them for who they are. Being with them in a non-judgmental and supportive way could help them seek treatment themselves. If not, you may need to step in and reach out for help for them.

Know Who to Call When Someone Is Suicidal

Even if you say all the right things, chances are a person who is suicidal will need more help than you are equipped to give them. So, the next thing you need to know is who to call when someone is suicidal. If they agree to talk to someone about their thoughts and feelings, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for them. The person who answers has some training to help people who may be on the verge of suicide and knows what to do if someone is suicidal. 

Most importantly, they can encourage your loved one to seek help and tell them where to find it. In addition, if the suicidal person will not talk to the person at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, you can talk to them to get advice on how to handle the immediate situation.

However, you can also seek help directly from a psychiatric hospital like Georgetown Behavioral Hospital. You can call them, or if the person is willing to go with you, you can simply bring them to the facility. And if your loved one refuses to go with you, you can still call and get instructions on what to do next. Whenever you see someone who is suicidal, the best thing you can do is reach out for help.

What Does the Hospital Do When Someone Is Suicidal?

Once a suicidal person is at a psychiatric hospital, the treatment team ensures their safety. If the person is actively suicidal, someone might stay with them until the danger is past. Every member of the staff knows what to do if someone is suicidal, so you can rest assured that your loved one will always be protected.

The psychiatrists will talk to your loved one, assess their medical and psychiatric history, and evaluate their current condition. If they determine that the person has a mental health condition, such as major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, they may begin treatment for that condition. In any case, they will address the source of the suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Meanwhile, individual and group therapy, as well as other types of therapy, will help the suicidal person deal with emotional pain or past traumas. They will get help making major life decisions as well as arranging practical matters that are causing them stress. Through the support of the mental health professionals at the hospital, the suicidal person can discover better ways to cope with difficult situations in their life. Finally, they may find a new meaning or purpose in their life.

Best Suicide Prevention Treatment Centers in Ohio 

At Georgetown Behavioral Hospital, people with suicidal thoughts and behaviors can find help, support, and healing. Our doctors, nurses, therapists, and entire staff are committed to providing high-quality care and effective treatments for suicide prevention and the mental health disorders behind suicidal thoughts. What’s more, our training and experience have taught us what to do if someone is suicidal, and we are always available to help.

Sometimes the best way to protect someone’s life is to find a professional who can provide them with the best care possible. We at Georgetown Behavioral Hospital want to encourage you to reach out to us whenever you see someone falling into suicidal thinking. We are here for you today, and any day you want to make a difference in someone’s life. 

Does someone you care about seem on the brink of suicide? Talk to the mental health experts at Georgetown Behavioral Hospital for help navigating the situation.


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