Since people who are thinking about suicide feel so alone and helpless, the most important thing to do if you think a friend or loved one is suicidal is to communicate with them open and frequently. Make it clear that you care. Stress your willingness to listen. Be sure to talk of suicide seriously. Don't assume that people who talk about killiing themselves won't really do it. DON'T ignore what may seem like casual threats or remarks. Statements like "You'll be sorry when I'm dead" and "I can't see any way out," no matter how off the cuff or jokingly said, it may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
One of the most common misconceptions about talking with someone who might be contemplating suicide is bringing up the subject may make things worse. This is NOT true. There is no danger of "giving someone the idea." Rather, the opposite is correct. Brigning up the question of suicide and discussing it without showing shock or disapproval is one of the most helpful things you can do. This openness shows that you are taking the individual seriously and responding to the severity of his or her distress.
If you find that your friend or loved one is contemplating suicide, it isw essential to help them find immediate care. Don't make the common misjudgment that those contemplating suicide are unwilling to seek help. Don't leave the suicidal person to find help alone--they usually aren't capable. Don't assume that someone who is determined to end their life can't be stopped. Even the most severly depressed pereson has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people don't want death, they want the pain to stop. The impluse to end it all, no matter how overpowering, does NOT last forever.
If the threat is immediate, if your friend or loved one tells you they are going to commit suicide, you must act immediatly. Don't leave the person alone, and don't try to argue. Instead ask questions like, "Have you thought about how to do it?" "Do you have the means?" "Have you decided when you'll do it?" If you person has a defined plan, the means are easily available, the method is a legal one, and the time is set, the risk of suicide is obviously severe. In such an instance, you must take the individual to the nearest hospital emergency room. If you are together on the phone, you may even need to call 911 or the police. Remember, under such circumstances no actions on your part should be concidered too extreme--you are trying to save a life. An overwhelming majority of young people who hear a suicide threat from a friend or loved one don't report the threat to and adult. Take all threats seriously--you are not betraying someone's trust by trying to keep them alive.