Need to Talk?

Do you know how to help someone who believes there is no other alternative? Suicidal people are generally seeking relief or escape from an intolerable situation, and they have usually experienced a gradual erosion of coping skills before suicide is considered a solution.

Most do not want to do. They want to be rescued, but they don't know who to ask for help or even how others may be able to help. If you encounter an individual you feel may be suicidal, consider the following when responding.

Remember that suicidal behavior is an extreme form of communication. Helping to establish other means of communication is an important place to start.

What to Do

Be direct:

  • Talk openly about the person's intent.
  • Discuss how serious the person is about ending their life.
  • Ask "are you considering suicide?" and/or "do you have a plan?"
  • Assess the risk by determining
    • specificity of the plan
    • lethality of the means
    • proximity of support/rescue services

Be a good listener:

  • Look for nonverbal cues that might show how the person is feeling.
  • Show that you care.
  • Reassure the person that you care and that others care.
  • Try to act and sound calm.
  • Be genuine and understanding.

Be positive:

  • Point out the most desirable alternatives and emphasize the temporary nature of the person's problem.
  • Explain that those problems will pass and they do not need require a solutions as permanent as suicide.

Get help:

  • Arrange a referral to:
    • Student Counseling Services at (208) 792-2211 or ext 2211
    • St. Joseph Regional Medical Center Emergency room at (208) 743-2511.
  • Stay with the person until the referral connections is made.
  • If these resources are not available, please call 911 (if using a campus phone dial (9) 911) and the Lewiston Police Department will intervene.

What Not to Do

Do not sidestep the issue:

  • Avoid empty assurances that tend to de-emphasize the person's problem.

Do not keep any secrets:

  • If keeping a secret endangers someones life, then it is time to break the confidence.

Do not sound shocked by anything the person tells you:

  • Do not emphasize the shock, embarrassment, and pain that suicide will cause others unless you are certain that is not exactly what the person hopes to accomplish.

Do not argue/debate with the person:

  • Because you may not only lose the argument but also the person.

Do not attempt to physically disarm the person:

  • Instead try to manipulate the weapon away by talking to the person.

Do no feel responsible to saving the person.

  • You can assist a person by guiding them to professional help.
  • But you cannot control what the person ultimately decides to do.