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NIDA. (2019, September 3). How To Get Help If You or Someone You Know Is Suicidal . Retrieved from

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Jane Pearson, Ph.D.
September 3 2019
Girl on a swing by the beach
©Shutterstock/antonio guillem

Jane Pearson, Ph.D., is Chair of the Suicide Research Consortium, and Program Chief of the Adult Preventive Intervention Program, at the National Institute of Mental Health.

If you or someone you know needs help today, you can find help at the Crisis Text Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They’re free and available 24/7:

  • Text “HELLO” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
  • Call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you or your friend need help right now, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.

Everyone has days and even weeks or months when life is hard. Stress levels are high, confidence levels are low, and solutions to problems are tough to find. Sometimes the negative feelings are overwhelming and painful. Sometimes people try to escape the pain by using drugs, or they think about hurting themselves. Everyone can get help dealing with the pain.

If you’re in emotional pain and thinking about suicide, the first thing to know is that there are people in your life who care about you and who want to help you feel better.

They may not know the perfect thing to say or do to make a difference, but they can help you find a trained professional with experience in situations like yours. There is immediate help to keep you safe, and there are effective treatments that can help you get better and stay better.  It’s okay to ask someone for support.

If you are in crisis or you’re worried about someone else who may be showing any of the warning signs of suicide, there are things you can do to get help—but you shouldn’t do it alone. This is an important issue, and you shouldn’t carry the responsibility by yourself.

The two BIG THINGS you can do to get help are:

  • Text the Crisis Text Line (741741) or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). These lines are confidential and available 24/7 for you or a friend.
  • Ask a trusted adult to help you or to help your friend.

What else? Here are 5 steps you—and a trusted adult—can take if someone is in emotional pain:

  1. ASK—Ask your friend, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Studies show that asking at-risk people if they’re suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. It can even save lives.
  2. KEEP THEM SAFE—If you can, remove dangerous items like firearms and medications.
  3. BE THERE—Listen carefully, acknowledge their feelings, and try not to judge.
  4. HELP THEM CONNECT—Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and the Crisis Text Line (741741) on your phone. You never know when you’ll want to use those numbers.
  5. STAY CONNECTED—Follow up and stay in touch after a crisis. It really makes a difference for the person who’s at risk.

What about social media? If you see a social media post that worries you, there are steps you can take to get help for the person who wrote it. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline lists ways to find support on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Periscope.

Please remember, there are people who care about you and who want you to feel better. Talk with them.

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