This past week I had the honor of sharing with a campus group at the University of Arizona. During the Q & A time I was asked a very important question: “If someone confides in you, when do you reach out for help and break a confidence?” My answer: “If that person indicates they want to hurt themselves or someone else.” A discussion ensued about who to reach out to.  Like so many impromptu questions, upon further reflection, I wanted to elaborate.

In that vein – September is National Suicide Prevention Month.   If you know or suspect someone you know may be contemplating suicide, here are some tips on how you can help. According to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline there are five steps you can take to help someone who may be contemplating suicide. These steps include:


Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way.

Keep Them Safe

A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline.

Be There

Individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to someone who listens without judgement.

Help Them Connect

Studies indicate that helping someone at risk create a network of resources and individuals for support and safety can help them take positive action and reduce feelings of hopelessness (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255).

Follow Up

Studies have also shown that brief, low cost intervention and supportive, ongoing contact may be an important part of suicide prevention, especially for individuals after they have been discharged from hospitals or care services.1

To read more about these steps and for additional resources check out:

Also check out the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s website:

Here are a couple of quick suggestions of what you can do and where you can turn for help:

  • Tell the person you are concerned about them.
  • Don’t leave them alone.
  • Is this person seeing a physician or mental health professional? Encourage them to contact this professional and get additional help. Offer to drive them or even go to the appointment with them for moral support.
  • Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)2



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *