How to Help

The more we understand about suicide, the more we can help the people we care about who are struggling.  There is no easy answer as to why someone may take their life. Suicide may result from a combination of factors including, but not limited to, mental and physical health, environmental and societal influences, as well as genetic and interpersonal relationships. When someone has feelings of despair and hopelessness without readily available coping skills, it can impact the way they think, their ability to solve problems, and their capacity to see that there are people who want to help.  There are important actions you can take to prevent suicide and keep those around you safe. Taking a suicide prevention training, free and offered by BHRS, can also increase your confidence in helping someone wo may be struggling. 

Let's Start with the Facts.

Fostering lethal means safety saves lives. We can create safer homes, work, and community spaces and reduce suicide significantly. Learn how here.

Talking about suicide won't give someone the idea to take their life.  Avoiding these conversations may, in fact, keep a person at risk.

People who attempt suicide are not trying to prove something or get attention. When we talk about suicide attempts as a "cry for attention," it can inadvertently invalidate the seriousness of the situation and further isolate a person.

Substances are often involved in suicide. People who misuse alcohol and other substances are at higher risk for suicide and attempts than the general population.

People in distress are ambivalent. Many attempt survivors describe wanting an end to their pain, but do not want to die. 

Resources are a lifeline to hope.  Recovery is possible and many find support with appropriate resources, including the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, 24/7.

To learn more about the facts of suicide and ways to initiate a conversation download a copy of the Compassion to Action Guide!

Steps You Can Take


Most people who feel suicidal express warning signs through feelings, words or actions, including: feeling burdensome, experiencing grief, chronic pain, or changes in substance use, hoarding/stopping medications, having access to lethal means, talking about suicide, withdrawing, acting recklessly, skipping classes, feeling rejected, just to name a few.  Take note of more than one warning sign and use it as a door opener for a conversation.


Protective factors include caring for mental and physical health problems, creating social connectedness, and building skills in coping or adapting to change. Major risk factors, such as depression and substance use, can intensify other risk factors such as medical illness, financial trouble, neurocognitive conditions, grief, and isolation.


“I’ve noticed that you seem more withdrawn/sad/angry lately. Are you thinking about suicide? Can we remove your firearm/substances, until your feelings are resolved?”

“I’m sorry you’re in this much pain. Are you feeling like you have lost hope? Sometimes when people feel this way, they may think about suicide. Are you?”

4. LISTEN (without judgement)

“I’m here to listen and support you.”

"I'm so glad you told me. I understand how that would be upsetting. Maybe there's a chance you won't feel like this forever.”


“I want to make sure that you stay safe. Let’s call 988 together for support." 

"Who would you like to connect with? I'll sit with you while you call  988 or your (therapist, parent, coach etc).


A phone call, text, or a caring card can foster belonging and support.

A Guide to Prevent Suicide

"From Compassion to Action: A Community Guide to Suicide Prevention and Support" is a one of it's kind resource to create awareness and action (available in English and Spanish). This Guide provides foundation information, strategies to talk with someone in distress, and thoughts on how to best support attempt survivors and those bereaved by suicide.