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Check on your Friends: How to Help Someone who is Thinking about Suicide

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC (#MentalHealthAwareness). Individuals who have experienced acute suicidal ideation might describe it as a similar amount of pain as having a limb cut off.

Suicide is a controversial topic but arguing about the "selfishness" of it won't save your friend.

What do you do when you suspect that someone you love is thinking ending their life?

What to Know

1. Commit to learning the symptoms of depression.

They include (but aren't limited to) feeling hopeless, apathetic, feeling "empty," distinct changes in eating or sleeping patterns, irritability, increased crying, and persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (#DepressionCounseling).

2. Learn the warning signs of suicide.

If your loved one is using suicidal statements, showing dramatic changes in mood, acknowledging hopelessness and feeling trapped, and or withdrawing from important people and things in their life, it's time to check in with them.

3. Put the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number in your phone

It's 1-800-273-8255 and here is their website.

What to Do

1. Establish trust and safety

Allow your friend or loved one to vent without offering too many reassurances or telling them it's going to "be okay." You can do this by practicing questions that begin with "What" or "How." An example of this would be "How many times a day do you think about suicide and what is your experiences with these thoughts like?"

2. Ask the hard (and direct) questions

Practice directly asking, "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" with someone who feels supportive. This question might always be awkward to ask and the importance of not shaming this individual is critical.

3. Refer your loved one to professional care

Whether this is directly calling the hospital if they are in imminent danger or supporting them in seeking outpatient care, you can support your friend in finding the help they need through calling the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) or by calling your local hospital or outpatient mental health facility (#MentalHealthMatters #SuicideAwareness).

Pivot Counseling, PLLC offers BCBS covered telehealth and in-person therapy for individuals struggling with Anxiety, Depression, Relationships, and Eating Disorders in Durham, NC. For more information regarding individual counseling, please go to, or follow us at or

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