Question #13


How Can You Help People
Who Want To Commit Suicide ?



Find Urgent Suicidal Help | SuicideCrisisCenter |

Helping suicidal persons is a very precarious matter.
  • There are so many variables.
  • The personality matters a lot.
  • Some people want support and comfort.
  • Others are angry and in denial and blame how they feel on people & unchangeable life circumstances.

Number One !!

Learn and Understand

  • Educate yourself about this illness.
  • Realize that there are millions out there just like your loved one.
  • They really are suffering with a potentially fatal biological illness.
  • Their feelings are their symptoms. And their life really is danger.
  • If people could stop it or feel better just by will or positive thinking, they would.
  • People do as much as they are emotionally and energetically capable of doing.
  • Without the right brain chemistry, a person can be physically incapable of forming a positive thought.
Start Treatment Immediately
  • People need to start some kind of treatment as soon as possible, even if they don't think it will help.
  • Make sure they are doing SOMEthing for help.
  • The sooner they start, the sooner the pain will end.
  • Make sure they are taking what ever medications and vitamins they are supposed to be taking.
  • Even if you have to call them or meet and give it to them.
  • No matter what, somehow, some way -- something in the brain chemistry has to change for them to feel better.

  • When depressed, we don't realize that it is our biochemically negative perception which makes life seem to bad and allows things people say to hurt us.
  • With treatment, we can begin to percieve people and life differently. We can become less biochemically oversensitive. Our anger can subside.
  • We cannot change circumstances, but we can change our own brain chemistry and be freed from the emotional slavery of negative reactions.

Tell Them
Ask Them
"Please Don't
Kill Yourself"

Emotional Ties

  • Tell the person - Don't do it !
  • TELL them often.
  • ASK them not to do it - PLEASE don't.
  • Tell them you don't want them to do it and that they are loved and would be badly missed.
  • Leave them a note or a letter if you are not able to say it out loud at first - but don't wait ! Do it now !!
  • You must learn to find your feelings and express them for their sake.
  • They need emotional ties to the world as a final block, the last barricade to death.
  • A tiny thread can be all that holds you in the world when you are severely suicidal.
  • Single persons are at much greater risk. My Distraction page might help.

Help them
do things

Lend them
your "will"

  • They may need help doing things.
  • In the movie "Awakenings" when the doctor, played by Robin Williams, threw the ball at the patient, the catatonic patient would catch it and throw it back -- and they called it "borrowing the will" of another human being.
  • It's like that - sometimes just taking their hand gently and getting them started or doing things with them
    • like taking their medication - hand them their pill & a glass of juice
    • getting food, groceries
    • basic minimal house cleaning like dishes
    • personal hygiene - wait with them while they shower
Your patience
and perseverence
could save them
  • Of course the person may not even allow you to help at first or at all
  • Try not to get your own feelings hurt.
  • They are not themselves, they are sick.
  • Even if they don't respond to your help immediately, your patience, perseverence, and strength can save them.
  • Try not to push or force - use reason, then let them alone
  • Let them do it in their own time. Let them sit and procrastinate for a while then suddenly to your surprise, they may pick up and swallow the doggone pill !

There may be other times when you have to determine whether you need to be more assertive.

  • There are two movies I know of with good examples which might help you:
    • "The Women of Brewster Place" when Oprah Winfrey's character helps Lynn Whitfield's character after the death of her child.
    • "Men Don't Leave" where Joan Kusac's character help's Jessica Lang's character out of a depression following the death of her husband (not including the balloon ride).
  • Both of these movie instances showed a determined, compassionate, matter-of-factness - you would need to see them in action - it might be worth renting the movies.

It's a lot to ask

Families can
help in shifts

Keep strong
emotional ties

  • Helping can be a lot of stress to the helper.
  • And most people don't have enough family or friends who have the time and emotional energy to really be there for them.
  • Families can take turns - make a schedule together
  • A spouse is the best helper since they live together but might need others to help out
  • Even a separated or ex-spouse often still cares and could possibly take a shift
  • It's a lot to ask, but a person without interested parties and emotional ties to the world, is at a much greater risk.

Care to Ask

Keep in Touch

  • Just caring enough to ask discreetly, "How are you feeling?" can help by just showing the person you have not forgotten their pain.
  • If that is all you can do or if that is all the person will allow you to do... just keep in touch by phone for a moment of personal caring contact
  • Find ways to mention that you want that person to stay alive

Ask Them What
Help They Need

Try to be open
for their sake

  • Ask them how they would like you to help them
    • Maybe they can suggest something
  • Also, if you sense that you have said something wrong at some point, try not to let it go
  • Try to ask gently, I'm sorry, have I said something to upset you?"
  • Letting their emotions fester can be very harmful.
  • Tell them the last thing you want to do is make things worse. Please forgive me.
Should they
be left alone ?
  • You really shouldn't leave a suicidal person alone but is so often impractical to be with them all the time.
  • A person can be suicidal for so long it just isn't possible to be with them all the time.
  • And they may not allow you to stay with them at all.
  • I wanted to be alone to plan my death.

How Do You Decide ???

Section 1

  • Sometimes people need to be hospitalized to keep them from attempting suicide.
  • How do you decide ? I don't know. Ask the person, ask their doctor.
  • There was a time when I was considering going in to save myself from eminent suicide.
  • My family got together (without me) to discuss this option for me at one point. They all know me in different ways and offered different points of view to come up with perhaps a better plan of action than just one family member on their own.
    • Just the fact that they would all get together like that for me, meant so much when I found out later.
    • I felt love from that - I felt they believed that I was in serious danger - and that they really did care whether I lived or died...
    • Strengthening my earthly ties

How Do You Decide ???

Section 2

  • At other times, I wanted to be free to commit suicide if I wanted to. Horrible, I know.

Things to consider

  • Insurance - It is extremely expensive
  • Time off work if the person is still working
  • The Hospital usually has to be one where your doctor is on staff
  • Location for family visits
  • Security level - will they keep the person safe from suicide? There were many times I could have easily escaped.
  • What treatments will they be given there ?
  • How often with the doctor see them ?  Once a week is not enough !!
  • How long will the person stay?
  • How will they be released when ready ?
  • Who will decide when they are ready to leave ?

How Do You Decide ???

Section 3

I was in a mental hospital when I was 19, after my 3rd suicide attempt. After 3 months the doctor and I decided I would be released just before Christmas. When the time came, a terrible thing happened.

  • My poor doctor forgot to set up my release papers because his father had died. He was so upset that he forgot all about me and left town!
  • That alone could have sent me into a suicidal episode.
  • But it didn't. I was better and ready to get out and go home!!
  • I wasn't suicidal and I wasn't mad at him, but I was just upset because I wanted out !!
  • Although I feel it was unwarranted, the attendants began to descend upon me to put me in the rubber room !! I had never been put in there before and fortunately didn't end up in there.
  • Somehow I was able to call home and my mother came to rescue me and she got me right out. Thank Goodness !!


Helping a Suicidal Person


The Right to Commit Suicide | Is Suicide A Choice ? | Suicide Myths



See The Family Support Section of My DepressionBookstore

Helping Someone With Mental Illness

What To Do When Someone You Love Is Depressed

How You Can Survive When They're Depressed

Author's Site


Find Urgent Suicidal Help | SuicideCrisisCenter |




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Other Sites To Visit


American Psychologic Association | Find A Psychologist 

The Suicide Paradigm | Do Something: An Idiot's Guide to Suicidality Prevention | Suicide-Myths | HelpingLovedOnes | Faqs/Helping 

Wing of Madness | Ways to Help a Depressed Person 

American Association of Suicidology | Understanding and Helping the Suicidal Person | Helping a Suicidal Person | Taking a Call From a Suicidal Person | When Someone You Love is Depressed | Ways To Help A Depressed Person

What To Do If Someone You Know Is Suicidal





Suicide Is Not Justified | Suicidal Brain Repair

I Feel Cured Every Day | About My Treatment 

The Right to Commit Suicide | Author's Treatment Page

Suicide Prevention In Your Area - What You Can Do




Solemn Poetry

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