Listen to them and take them seriously. Don’t judge or minimize their feelings. Be positive and hopeful, and remember that suicide can be prevented.
Ask them if they are suicidal. Don’t be afraid that you will put the idea in their head. It may be a relief for them to talk about it.
Ask if they have a plan. Depending on their answer you may want to limit their access to lethal means, such as medication, knives or firearms.
Ask them to rate their suicidal feelings on a scale of 1 to 10. Then regularly ask them to tell you where they are on the scale, so you can assess if things are getting worse.
Let them know help is available and that the cause of their suicidal thoughts can be successfully treated.
Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.
Encourage them to seek help from a doctor or mental health provider, and offer to help with this if they would like.
Make a safety plan with them. Who will they call if their feelings get stronger? Who can stay with them to keep them safe? Make a list of phone numbers of people and services they can call if they feel unsafe. Avoid leaving the person alone if he or she is in crisis.
Seek support for yourself—it is important that you don’t carry this burden alone.
What if the person refuses to go to the hospital?
In Ontario, if someone who is thought to be at serious risk for suicide refuses to go to the hospital, there are three ways that he or she may be compelled to go for an assessment:
1. A doctor may examine the person (either in the community or at a hospital) to issue an Application for Psychiatric Assessment (sometimes called Form 1). This allows for the person to be kept in hospital for up to 72 hours, to determine whether he or she needs psychiatric care and supervision.
2. A police officer may take the person to the hospital to be examined by a doctor.
3. A justice of the peace may authorize the police to take the person to the hospital.
What should I do if someone has attempted suicide?
Remain calm and call 911.