Family or Friend

Are you a family or friend that would like to help either someone considering suicide, someone that has lost someone to suicide (a suicide loss survior), or someone that has attempted suicide (a suicide attempt survivor)?

First off, I would like to say thank you very much! If not for my family and friends, I would have struggled alone.

Below are some resources to help someone considering suicide

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website contains information on helping someone that is considering suicide.
  • The Mayo Clinic website contains information on what to do when someone is suicidal.
  • The HelpGuide website contains information on recognizing the warning signs.
  • The website contains a list of Suicide Hotlines within the United States and internationally.
  • The website contains information on how to help a suicidal person.
  • The USA Mental Health First Aid website contains information on how to help someone who is suicidal.
  • The Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) website contains information on how to help someone who feels suicidal.
  • The Connections website has an online program where suicide attempt survivors or those who have experienced suicidal thinking can speak with suicide attempt survivors.
  • The Live Through This website contains personal stories of recovery and hope from suicide attempt survivors.

I am a suicide loss survivor and based on my experience the most important thing you can do to help, is to educate yourself on what you should and should not say; then secondly to help by preparing meals, going grocery shopping, feeding pets, vacuuming, cleaning, driving to doctor's appointments, picking kids up from school, helping kids with homework, just physically being present in the home, making sure your family or friend is getting something to eat, getting some sleep, bathing, brushing their teeth and so on.

  • DO NOT tell your family or friend how you think they should be grieving or that they are grieving too long.
  • DO get them talking...talking about how they are feeling or talking about the loved one that they lost and you need to just listen. DO NOT respond with your opinion...the best thing you can say is "I am sorry for your loss" even if that is all you say over and over again.
  • DO NOT respond to your family or friend with anger, frustration or impatience because of the way they are expressing their grief even if it feels like they are lashing out at you. You will most certainly feel uncomfortable about how they are expressing their grief, so be prepared. Be prepared to be extra, extra understanding and compassionate and just listen.
  • DO NOT think that because you have experienced grief in your life that your family or friend should react like you did. Loss from suicide is very different and very complex. Unless you are a suicide loss survivor youself, you abosolutely DO NOT know how the survivor is feeling and DO NOT try to act like you do.
  • DO find people for you to talk to as well because you are going to begin to feel overwhelmed. This will take an emotional toll on you. The leaders of the support groups are a great person to chat with, a pastor is also a great option. Make sure you take care of yourself too.
  • DO go to support groups with your family or friend and offer to drive them. There is a list of Support Groups by State on the Suicide Loss Survivor page.
  • DO help them get connected with another suicide loss survivor. It will really help if they can have someone to talk to that understands how they feel. You can find other suicide loss survivors at support groups, see the Suicide Support by State page and The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a program called 'Healing Conversations' in which they match a suicide loss survivor up with someone who also is a suicide loss survivor. Click here and locate the button on the page that says 'Complete the form'.

Below is a list of other resources that you can check out that also provide tips and information on how to help.

In 2011, a family member of mine intentionally overdosed. Thankfully they were found in time and are now leading an emotionally healthy life. This family member lived out of state which posed an additional challenge in making sure that I could provide them with quality help. Below are some actions that I took.

  • The most helpful thing that I did was to call my family member regularly. This could look different based on the amount of support your family or friend is getting. In my case, I chose to call my family member twice a day for about 2 months to check-in and just listen. Then, after about 2 months, my family member was doing a bit better and had me call once a day for about another month, then after that I called every couple days for a few weeks, then every week for a few weeks and then every other week for a few months. I would say in total, I stayed in touch with my family member for at least 6 months on a regular basis.
  • I asked my family member if I could have permission to speak with their doctors on their behalf and to schedule appointments.
  • I also found a friend at church to speak with when I was feeling overwhelmed and emotionally drained.

Below are some resources to help someone that has made an attempt

Below is a resource to talk to a child about a suicide attempt in your family