"Suicide" is classified as the act of taking one's own life. "Suicidal behavior" is any action that could cause a person to die, while "parasuicidal behavior" is self-harm that does not result in death.
- Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide
- Approximately, 1 million people die each year from suicide
- Each year, over 185,000 people are impacted by the suicide of some they care about
- Talking about killing or harming oneself
- "I wish I had never been born."
- "Nobody would care if I died; I would be better off dead."
- "If I ever see you again..."
- Talking or writing a lot about death and dying
- Poems/photos/narratives about self-mutilation or suicide on social media or in a private diary
- Writing suicide letters
- Seeking out lethal means
- Immediate access to guns, medication, knives, or other weapons could be used in suicide attempts
- **Strong predictor of suicide
- Belief that things will never get better or change
- "I have nothing to look forward to..."
- "I will never feel better..."
- Saying goodbye
- Unusual or unexpected visits or phone calls to family and friends
- Saying goodbye to pepole as if you will never see them again
- Making out a will and/or giving away prized possessions
- Withdrawing from others
- Increased social isolation
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred--like a burden to others
- Self-destructive behavior
- Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unprotected sex
- Self-mutilation--cutting, burning, hitting, punching oneself
- Sudden sense of calm and peace
- Typically mistaken for a positive outcome
- Person may have made decision to commit suicide
What can I do to help a loved one who is contemplating suicide?
Prevention Tip #1: Speak Up
The best way to find out if someone is suicidal is to ASK.
Giving the individual who may be suicidal the opportunity to express his/her feelings can:
- Provide relief from loneliness
- Give the idea that someone cases
- AND may prevent a suicide attempt
What do I ask?
- "I have been concerned about you lately..."
- "Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing..."
- "I just wanted to briefly check in with you because you haven't seemed like yourself lately. Is there something going on that you would like to talk to me about?"
If he/she is contemplating suicide,
- "When did you begin feeling this way?"
- "Did something happen that made you feel this way?"
- "How can I best support you right now/"
- "Have you thought about seeking help?"
- "You are not alone in this. I am here for you."
- "I may not understand how you feel, but I care about you and want to help you."
What Not To Do
- Argue with someone who is contemplating suicide
- "You have so much to live for. Stop it."
- Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, OR tell the person your view on suicide
- Promise confidentiality
- Give advice
- Blame yourself
Prevention Tip #2: Respond Quickly
Evaluate the immediate danger of suicide
Those at highest risk of suicide:
- Have a specific suicide PLAN
- Have the MEANS of carrying out the plan
- Have a TIME FRAME of committing suicide
- Have an INTENTION of following through with the plan
What do I ask?
- "Do you have a plan to harm yourself?"
- "Do you have what you need to carry about your plan?" (e.g. rope, gun, medication, etc.)
- "Do you have an idea of when you are planning to carry about your plan?"
- "Do you intend to die?"
**NEVER LEAVE THE PERSON ALONE
Prevention Tip #3: Offer Help
The best way to help is to offer an empathic, listening ear.
- Help he/she seek professional care
- Crisis hotlines
- Locate a treatment facility
- Identify a psychologist/psychiatrist
- Follow-up Treatment
- Be Proactive
- Don't wait for the person to call you or return your calls
- Invite the person out
- Offer assistance with household chores, taking care of the children or pets, etc.
- Encourage positive lifestyle changes
- Balanced eating and sleeping patterns
- Make a safety plan
- Identify triggers (e.g. death, divorce, alcohol, stress, etc.)
- Keep contact numbers in a secure place (e.g. therapist, 911, friend)
- Remove potential lethal means (e.g. guns, medication, rope)
- Provide continued support
- Periodically check in with the individual
In crisis situations, please refer to our Emergency information.
SIUE Police Department
Graduate Student Help Line
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Understanding & Helping A Suicidal Person
National Council for Suicide Prevention
The Jed Foundation
Suicide Prevention in College