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What Do You Do If You Are Feeling Suicidal and Need Help?

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you are not alone. 

The number of people who experience suicidal ideation in the U.S. every year numbers in the millions. You are not selfish or a bad person for feeling this way. 

Be assured that most people who experience moments of intense suicidal feelings are able to recover and live fulfilling lives. 

Hold that in mind and keep reading. Let’s take a moment to take stock of your situation:

First, Are you safe?

If you have already tried to self-harm today or are feeling intense suicidal urges, call 911 immediately or have a friend or family member get you to mental health urgent care or an emergency room. 

If you have not yet tried to harm yourself but are feeling strong suicidal thoughts or urges to self-harm, please contact a crisis counselor right away:

Fully recovering from your suicidal feelings will require long-term help, but your focus right now should be staying safe through your current suicidal episode. 

If you have not yet reached crisis point, here are the steps you should follow to stay safe while you weather the current storm: 

Tell somebody.

If you are experiencing persistent suicidal ideation of any sort, reach out to someone you trust as soon as possible and tell them how you are feeling. Even if you are not likely to hurt yourself right now, having somebody who knows what you are struggling with will make it easier to get help. 

Know that talking may be difficult. 

You may not feel like there’s much the other person can do, or you may not want to worry them. Try to remember that your perception of your own worth is distorted when you are suicidal. 

You are not a burden. You are worthy of help. The first and most important step to keeping yourself safe is to reach out to a friend, family member, or medical professional who can provide you with that help. 

Remove access to means of self-harm.

Once you have somebody you trust, get their help to remove anything dangerous from your presence. Your trusted person can hold onto any knives, firearms, pills, chemicals, or anything else you could use to harm yourself until you feel safe again. 

This is easiest if you have a cabinet or safe where you can lock everything up and turn over the key to your loved one. But any means of keeping these items out of your hands is better than nothing. 

Distract yourself.

Giving yourself a sensory distraction of some sort can help to calm the immediate impulse to self harm. Listen to music, take a walk, lay on the floor (yes, that can be enough), or pet an  animal.

If the urge is acute, sensations that are intense but not harmful such as placing ice cubes on your skin can help to keep it at bay. If you just need to divert your attention until the worst of the feelings pass, something mundane and harmless like a movie, game, or craft might help keep your mind occupied until you feel safer. 

Create a safety plan.

If you are currently safe but feel your situation may escalate toward self-harm, work on creating a plan in case you enter crisis mode and can’t think clearly. 

Save.org has provided this excellent safety plan template where you can write down the steps to follow and people to contact if you start going into crisis. Share this plan with your loved ones, doctors, trusted religious leaders, or anyone else you think might be able to recognize when you are in distress and can take action.

Long-Term Safety

Once the episode has passed and you are in an okay place, you should try to secure some help toward your long-term recovery. It is time to make an appointment with a doctor or mental health professional so they can help you work toward feeling better. 

If you are severely depressed, you may be unable to motivate yourself to go through all the necessary steps of scheduling and attending an appointment. It is okay to ask for help with this. You are not a burden. Don’t hesitate to lean on someone in your life to set up your appointment for you, and even to help you get there if necessary. 

Available Support Resources

If financial hardship or other barriers to your seeking mental health treatment are already one of the contributing factors to your suicidal thoughts, do not let these instructions discourage you. 

No matter your situation, there are resources for you on both national and local levels. Here are some of the options that may be available to you: 

Community Mental Health Centers

Most states have some level of community mental health services. These can usually be found through the Department of Human Services on your state’s website. Private non-profits can also offer free or sliding scale mental health treatment. A good place to start is your local YMCA or similar community center. 

Churches or Spiritual Communities

Many churches provide support resources for their congregations. Your church leaders may offer free individual counseling for those who need it. Some congregations may be willing to provide financial assistance to members who need help seeking treatment. 

It is also very common for religious communities to sponsor support groups or group therapy. These are often open to the general public, so you do not need to be a member of the congregation or be religious to attend. 

Online Resources and Communities

There are widely available resources online for people experiencing feelings like yours. Free crisis chat lines are obviously a good place to turn if you are in active distress. 

For the process of recovery, many online therapy platforms offer reduced rates for those who are struggling financially. Online support groups can also provide a lot of connection and stability in times of need. 

University Resources

If you are a student, your university almost certainly has a resource center where students can receive mental health assistance. Whether they can provide you counseling on site or help you get in touch with affordable outside treatment, your school can be an incredibly helpful resource. 

Training Clinics

There are training clinics for every sort of medical practice, from family medicine to mental health, and they often operate at much more affordable rates than other clinics. 

The training physicians there are in the final stages of earning their degrees and are overseen by more experienced attending physicians, so the standard of care provided will be exactly the same as anywhere else.

Negotiable Pricing

Most people don’t realize how often mental health clinics are willing to work with people who are financially insecure so they can still have access to the treatment they need. Especially if you have been struggling with thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to ask a nearby clinic if they can help you work something out. 

Steps Toward Recovery

Once your medical needs are taken care of and you are feeling a little more stable, you can begin to take other small steps to help in your recovery. Small things like reestablishing interest in your hobbies and improving your self-care habits can begin to make a huge difference in how you feel on a daily basis. 

Larger steps involve things like finding a broader community of support among others with experiences similar to yours. These can help you progress in your recovery without shame—and provide plenty of support to fall back on in case things ever get difficult again. 

Things may seem dire and hopeless right now, but they can and will get better. It is always okay to ask for help and to seek out a new support system if yours has failed you. 

Once again, if you are in crisis, don’t hesitate to contact any of these resources:

No matter what you’re feeling right now, you will get through this with time and help. Life will begin to feel kinder and a lot more manageable.

Reach out for help. Stay safe. 

The first step to suicide intervention is recognizing warning signs. 

Once the signs have been recognized, it’s equally important that something is done about it. We’re here to help you understand what you can do, what will help, and what to avoid. 

People who are struggling may not be very forthcoming about feeling suicidal. However, there may still be signs that might help loved ones know when to approach them with support or intervention. 

Major warning signs someone may attempt suicide include:

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Withdrawing from life and social responsibilities 
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Agitated, anxious, or restless behavior
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Talking about wanting to die or self-harm
  • Increased fascination with death or suicide, especially with specific means of suicide

These indicators are serious and require intervention, but may not be an immediate emergency. However, if the person is directly threatening suicide, posting on social media about death or suicide, or researching or seeking access to methods of suicide, call 911 immediately. *


* Threats of suicide should always be taken seriously, but if they are coming from an abusive partner—especially if you are trying to leave—take measures to secure your own safety first. A suicidal abuser may also try to harm their partner before taking their own life. Get to safety and contact emergency services. 

Signs can be subtle, or even misleading, so don’t blame yourself if some things slip your notice and things come to a crisis point. Do your best to invest in your close relationships so you can more easily notice when something is off. This is especially important if your loved one is experiencing mental illness. 

No matter the circumstances, understand that missing signs does not mean you have failed them.  

It is sometimes the case that a person who has been depressed or in crisis for a long time will suddenly become uncharacteristically calm or upbeat if they have decided to attempt suicide. This can happen because they feel they have found a simple resolution to their problems and that an end to their suffering is in sight. 

This is why it is so important for loved ones to be aware of the person’s feelings and behavior patterns so they might recognize when a sudden positive change in mood may be cause for concern. 

How to Intervene and Provide Support

If you have noticed warning signs in your loved one but they have not spoken to you directly about feeling suicidal, the next step is to speak to them. Starting a dialogue can feel awkward or invasive, but your willingness to talk may give the person permission to speak where they previously felt they couldn’t. 

1. Begin by Asking

Some questions to ask to start a conversation may include:

  • “Do you ever feel so bad that you think about suicide?”
  • “Do you have a plan to kill yourself or take your life?”
  • “Have you thought about when you would do it (today, tomorrow, next week)?”
  • “Have you thought about what method you would use?”

These questions can help you assess how serious the danger is and respond accordingly.

2. Keep Calm and Trust Yourself

The knowledge that a loved one may be at risk of suicide can be overwhelming. Whether they have directly confided in you about their struggles, or you have noticed concerning behavior from them, it can be difficult to know what to do next. 

The first thing to know is that your intervention is already a big step toward keeping your loved one safe. Your response may not be perfect, but your willingness to act on their behalf is already going a long way toward bringing them the support they need during this time. 

3. Press Pause on Tough Love

There are a few things to avoid when intervening with someone who is feeling suicidal. 

  • Minimizing - Even if you believe they are overreacting to their situation, never try to minimize their problems. Mental illness does not respond to assurance that it “isn’t that bad” or insistence that suicide would be a selfish decision. 
  • Shame - Regardless of your own opinions about the situation, your loved one needs to hear that you are not disappointed in them, that life can get better, and that you are willing to do whatever is needed to help them. Trying to shame a suicidal person into changing their mind will only make things worse. 

4. Be Extra Proactive

Once you have talked to your loved one about their suicidal thoughts, it is important not only to take action, but to follow through no matter what. Even a person who is willing to seek help may not have the motivation or ability to do so on their own, so your own motivated support is crucial. 

5. Seek Professional Help

If the threat is not immediate, you can start by helping your loved one find a doctor or mental health professional to get them on a path to recovery. You may need to go so far as to make the first phone call, or even to take them to their appointment. 

People suffering from severe depression have a difficult time following through on these things, so it may be up to you to make sure the initial steps toward seeking help are executed.


6. Don’t Try to Do it Alone

If your loved one has told you about their plans to take their life:

Don’t keep secrets. Even if it was told to you in confidence, and even if they are upset with you for telling, their safety is far more important. 

Reach out for help. If you are not in a direct position to help and monitor your loved one, contact someone who is. 

If they are a minor, contact parents and school counselors, as well as any other trusted adults in their life. 

If they are an adult, contact partners, roommates, close family members, or any others who may be in a position to help you keep track of the person and find them help. 

Remove access to dangerous items. If you are directly responsible for the person, you can help ensure their safety while you work on getting them help by staying aware of their location and restricting access to any means of self-harm (pills, weapons, access to heights or busy roads, etc.).

Though suicidal ideation and planning may be ongoing and persistent, the crisis period during which someone is likely to actively attempt suicide is usually short. Until it passes, this is the most important time to provide support and reduce access to lethal means. 

7. Recognize When It’s an Emergency

Finally, if at any point you suspect the situation has escalated to become an emergency, don’t hesitate to call 911. You can also call the 988 Crisis & Suicide Prevention Lifeline for guidance on what to do in your specific situation. 

Suicide can be prevented. The more quickly a person’s loved ones notice and take action toward helping them, the more likely they will be able to get the help they need. However, please remember, it is not your fault if your loved one dies by suicide.  No matter the outcome, your efforts are important, and your support could save a life.

Suicide is an incredibly complicated issue. 

There are an overwhelming number of contributing factors, and it affects every demographic regardless of age, race, or social class. Factors affecting certain communities may, however, lead to higher suicidal ideation and behavior within those demographics. 

In the United States, suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15-24, and it is estimated to claim the lives of roughly 125 Americans every day. Risk factors are many and varied. They include, but are not limited to: 

  • Mental illness 
  • Abuse
  • Job loss or severe financial distress
  • Chronic illness or pain
  • Relationship loss
  • Social isolation
  • Suicide of a friend or family member

Statistics can be misleading on which demographics are most at risk of suicide. Among the highest-risk groups overall (teenagers and young adults), females are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide but males make up the majority of actual suicides. 

This is due to a handful of different factors, most significantly social stigma preventing many males from seeking help when experiencing distress.

The likelihood of a teenager or young adult attempting suicide also rises significantly if that person is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, especially if they are lacking sufficient family or community support. 

The risk can be greatly reduced if a person is surrounded by family or friends who are openly supportive and affirming of their sexuality or gender identity. Even more so if medical and community resources for helping them understand and affirm their identity are widely available. 

Overall, in the U.S. there are around 45,000 suicides each year out of 1.1 million yearly suicide attempts. There are many organizations dedicated to keeping that number on a steady decline, including:

Overwhelmingly, the best means of early suicide prevention are:

  1. When the victim recognizes they are in distress and reaches out for help.
  2. When loved ones take notice of worrying behaviors and take steps to intervene and provide support for the victim. 

These methods are not guaranteed, and there is still a very long way to go in managing this complex and serious public health issue, but education and awareness are an important first step. 

No matter how overwhelming it may feel, intervention IS effective, and the more we continue to do so, the more lives will be saved. If you or a loved one are currently struggling with thoughts of self-harm, please stop right now and dial 988 on your phone, or text HOME to 741-741 to speak with a crisis counselor.

Suicide is currently an incredibly pressing issue in our world. In the United States, suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15-24, and it is estimated to claim the lives of roughly 125 Americans every day

With so many suffering in our country, and others suffering from mental illness and suicidal thoughts, it is important for all of us to know how to recognize when someone in our life is at risk of suicide. 

However, it is not always readily apparent when someone is struggling with self-harm or planning to take their life. The signs can be subtle and easy to miss. We hope this guide can point out some things to look for so you can recognize when intervention is necessary. 

Your awareness may save a life. 

What Causes Suicidal Thoughts?

There is no singular cause of suicidal ideation or behavior. A variety of situations or life circumstances may be the catalyst for someone wanting to end their life. Risk factors include but are not limited to:

  • Mental illness
  • Abuse
  • Job loss or severe financial distress
  • Chronic illness or pain
  • Relationship loss
  • Social isolation
  • Suicide of a friend or family member

Mental Illness

In most of these circumstances, severe mental illness is present—which can make the other issues all the more difficult to handle. 

For someone who is suffering from one or more of these factors, it may feel like the only way out is to end their life. They may also feel their struggles make them a burden on others and that it would be better for everyone if they were gone.

Community Factors

There is no definitive way to determine who is most at risk. However, factors affecting certain communities may lead to higher suicidal ideation and behavior within those demographics. 

No matter what, having access to support from family and community is a major factor in improving the odds of survival and recovery for a person struggling with suicidal ideation. This makes it crucial for as many people as possible to know how to recognize the signs and intervene. 

How to Recognize if Someone is Suicidal

As previously mentioned, it is not always obvious when someone is struggling. A person who is feeling suicidal may not be very forthcoming, especially in communities where mental illness and suicide are not often discussed in a supportive manner. 

Even so, there are some common signs to watch for that may indicate a loved one is in need of support or intervention. 

Major warning signs someone may attempt suicide include:

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Withdrawing from life and social responsibilities 
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Agitated, anxious, or restless behavior
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Talking about wanting to die or self-harm
  • Increased fascination with death or suicide, especially with specific means of suicide

These signs may or may not indicate an imminent suicide attempt, but they should be taken very seriously. Action should be taken as quickly as possible to provide individuals with these indicators of support and to help them find professional help to improve their situation and outlook. 

There are likewise a few signs to watch for that may indicate the person is in immediate danger, including:

  • Directly threatening suicide or talking about having no reason to live
  • Posting on social media about death or suicide
  • Researching or seeking access to methods of suicide

Any of these three signs should prompt you to immediately reach out to a mental health professional or to call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for instructions on how you should respond. 

If you become aware that the person is in crisis and immediately at risk of harming themselves, call 911 or bring them to an emergency room right away

Don’t second guess your concern if you see these signs. No reaction is an overreaction when it comes to keeping your loved one safe. 

What to Do Next

Overwhelmingly, the best means of early suicide prevention are:

  1. When the victim recognizes they are in distress and reaches out for help.
  2. When loved ones take notice of worrying behaviors and take steps to intervene and provide support for the victim. 

If your loved one has reached out to you for help, or if you have noticed any of the warning signs and the situation is not yet an emergency, the next steps are to begin intervention. 

Talk to your loved one. If they have not yet confided in you, ask if they have been thinking about suicide, and listen without judgment as they talk about how they are feeling. 

After establishing the need for help, involve other trusted members of the person’s family or community to create a support network for them as they navigate this difficult time. 

Ultimately, anyone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts or behavior should receive help from a mental health professional. 

Their current state of depression or hopelessness may not allow them to seek this help on their own. As part of your intervention, you may need to help them make an appointment with a professional and follow up. This help can ensure they are able to properly begin their road to recovery. 

For more information on effective intervention and prevention, you can refer to our guide to effective suicide prevention here. 

Every year in the United States alone, around 45,000 people die by suicide. This number represents an epidemic marked by an unprecedented rise in the number of suicide deaths in the U.S. since the early 2010s. 

Suicide is an incredibly complicated issue. There are an overwhelming number of contributing factors, and it affects every demographic regardless of age, race, or social class. The prevalence and universal nature of suicide merit far more discussion nationwide. Unfortunately, because it is such an unpleasant and difficult issue, it remains a taboo topic in many communities. 

In the face of such overwhelming statistics, it may seem impossible to make a difference. However, through awareness and effort, individuals and communities can work together to exponentially reduce suicide. 

What Does Suicide Prevention Look Like? 

Effective suicide prevention happens at many different levels, ranging from individual to systemic, but direct prevention begins at the individual level.

This post will take you through effective steps you can take if you or a loved one are at risk of suicide or self-harm.

Self-Intervention and Prevention

Suicide intervention on an individual level most often comes from the friends or family of someone struggling with suicidal feelings. However, it’s important to note that it can also come from the person struggling as well. 

Not every individual experiencing suicidal thoughts or behavior will have the ability or the desire to intervene on their own behalf. But, if you are having thoughts of harming yourself, you don’t need to feel helpless in your own intervention. 

Your life and your agency matter. If you feel capable of reaching out, you can start the ball rolling on your recovery and maintain some control over how and from whom you receive help. 

Here are some steps for effective suicide prevention for yourself

  • Remind yourself that you matter.
    Reaching out for help is not always easy, but keep reminding yourself that your perception of your self-worth is distorted while you are suicidal. If you do not have trusted friends or family, there is likely a professional or community member (online communities included) who will listen and take your safety seriously. 
  • Remove access to means of self-harm.
    Once you have someone you trust, get their help to remove anything dangerous from your surroundings. Have them hold onto the items until you feel safe again. 
  • Distract yourself.
    The immediate urge to self-harm is often short-lived. Give yourself a sensory distraction such as music, petting an animal, doing a craft, or going on a walk to occupy you until the worst of the feelings pass. 
  • Create a safety plan.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has provided this excellent safety plan template where you can write down a plan for if you enter crisis mode and are unable to think clearly. Share this plan with someone you trust who can recognize when you are in crisis and take action.

If you are in crisis and need help immediately, call 911 or have a friend or family member get you to mental health urgent care or an emergency room. 


Intervention by a Friend or Family Member

A suicidal person may not be capable of reaching out for help on their own. In those cases, it can fall to a friend or relative to notice the signs and intervene.

Here are some steps for effective suicide prevention for a loved one:

  • Ask questions.
    If you suspect someone you love may be suicidal, ask them about it. Asking them directly can help you assess how serious the danger is so you can respond accordingly. 
  • Trust yourself.
    Knowing a loved one is at risk of suicide can be overwhelming, but it’s important to trust your instincts to ensure their safety. Your willingness to intervene to keep them safe will go a long way in giving them the support they need to get through this. 
  • Don’t minimize or shame.

This is not the time for tough love. Do not try to convince the person that their problems aren’t that bad or that they are selfish for wanting to take their life. They need to know you are not disappointed in them for feeling this way and that you are taking their struggle seriously. 

  • Be proactive.
    If you know someone is suicidal, take action and follow through. Remove access to things they may use to harm themselves while they are in crisis. If necessary, stay with them for as long as it takes for the danger to pass. 

Your loved one may be too depressed or paralyzed to take action toward healing on their own, so they may need your help to take steps for long-term prevention as well. If so, it is crucial that you follow through on finding reliable help for them from your community or a professional. 

  • Don’t do it alone.
    When someone’s safety is on the line, do not keep secrets. Enlist help from others you trust to help the person. Even if they are upset with you for telling, in the end it will have been for the better.
  • Recognize when it is an emergency.
    If you suspect the situation has escalated to an emergency, do not hesitate to call 911 or take your loved one to an emergency room. You can also call the 988 Crisis & Suicide Prevention Lifeline for guidance on what to do in your specific situation.

Prevention is Key

Whether it’s yourself or a loved one, a suicidal crisis can be a scary thing to navigate. That’s why we at Bio-One hope this guide will help you know how to intervene to keep yourself or the people you love safe. 

Part of our mission is to provide community resources. That’s why we dedicate so much of our time to projects like this. We want to create a future where we never have to answer another suicide call again. 

Usually when an issue becomes large enough to classify as an epidemic it becomes a central topic of discussion. Unfortunately, many of us don’t quite know how to handle ourselves when it comes to conversations around suicide. 

Suicide as a topic of discussion is somewhat of a taboo in our society for a number of reasons.

Many people are uncomfortable talking about death in any regard. The same can be said for the topic of mental illness. Because discussions about suicide usually require talking about both, the subject is often avoided outright. 

This stigma can be incredibly isolating. 

For someone struggling with thoughts of suicide, it may prevent them from reaching out for help or talking about how they are feeling. For those who have recently lost a loved one to suicide, they may likewise feel unable to reach out for support. 

One of the best means of prevention and support for both victims and survivors is open conversation. We owe it to our communities to get better at talking about suicide. Here are some steps we can all make in the right direction in order to end the stigma. 

Step 1: Stop

Destigmatizing the conversation around suicide requires, first, confronting some of the unhelpful ways we speak and act about it. Before we can change the conversation, here are some of the things we need to stop doing: 

Stereotyping 

When speaking about suicide, it’s important to recognize that it’s impossible to know who might be struggling. 

There is no singular type of person who struggles with mental illness or suicidal ideation. Implying that suicidality should look or present a certain way may increase the feelings of failure and isolation in those who don’t fit the mold. 

Blaming 

Often the language around suicide frames it in a way that paints it as criminal or selfish. 

This kind of thinking can make people struggling with suicidal thoughts feel ashamed and hesitant to tell anyone they are suffering. It can also make surviving friends and family hesitant to talk about what they’re going through out of fear that their loved one will be judged for taking their own life.  

Tiptoeing

Many people report that after they reach out about struggling with suicidal thoughts people around them start treating them differently. It’s common for members of a family or community to tread extra carefully around a suicidal person as if saying the wrong thing might set them off. 

This does not go unnoticed and makes it harder for sufferers to be willing to reach out the next time. Similarly, it can make survivors of suicide feel like their grief is inconvenient or that they are being overemotional. 

Reject the idea that depression or grief makes people too fragile to treat normally. 

Minimizing

It is never helpful to tell anyone who is struggling for any reason that their pain is insignificant compared to others in the world. 

Mental illness affects people regardless of their life situation. 

Their pain is real whether or not you think they should be feeling it. 

Minimizing will add guilt and only make a person feel worse.  

Avoidance 

Avoiding discussion of suicide when someone is struggling or has suffered a loss is never helpful. Dodging the topic and pretending everything is fine won’t make the problem go away. 

If we stop treating suicide like a dirty word, it will be easier for people to talk about it when they need help. 

Step 2: Learn

Knowledge can go a long way toward improving the way we talk about suicide. If you are interested in becoming more comfortable with the topic, a good place to start is learning more about it. 

There are many incredible resources that speak in plain language about suicide in a way that is helpful in knowing how to approach the topic. Here are some helpful links to get you started: 

Step 3: Normalize

As you become more informed, normalize speaking about mental health and suicide in your social circles. 

If you have struggled with your own mental health, be willing to speak openly about it. It’s more than likely that others have had similar struggles but have felt alone because of stigma. 

Even the way we speak about victims of suicide can be improved by normalizing discussion. 

We should be willing to talk about those we have lost to suicide in a way that acknowledges their experience without judgment. 

Some people worry this sort of discussion may encourage others to act on their own suicidal thoughts. In fact, the opposite is true. 

Open and empathetic acknowledgment of the pain of the victim and the pain of their loss can embolden others to reach out for help without fear of judgment. 

Step 4: Ask & Listen

One of the best things you can do to destigmatize the discussion of suicide is to become comfortable with asking and listening. 

If you suspect somebody is having a difficult time, make it a normal practice to ask them sincerely about how they’re feeling. If they feel you are a safe person to be vulnerable with they are more likely to open up. 

Listen to them without judgment and with the intent to understand. 

Treat anybody who opens up to you about mental illness or grief as if it is perfectly normal for them to do so. The more calm empathy people receive, the easier it will be for them to talk. The more people someone is able to talk to, the bigger their support system and the better their chances of recovery. 

Another important resource built around listening is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. This free resource is for anyone experiencing a crisis and it connects people with skilled crisis counselors who listen and provide immediate support. For more information, visit 988lifeline.org or read our dedicated article.

Step 5: Advocate

As you become more comfortable speaking about suicide in your own social circles, you can use your voice to help others. 

Speak up to advocate for better support and resources in your community. 

The more community members and leaders are made aware of the prevalence of suicide, the greater the call will be for improved conversation and support for those who are struggling. 

— Whether it’s yourself or a loved one, a suicidal crisis can be a scary thing to navigate. That’s why we at Bio-One hope this guide will help you know how to intervene to keep yourself or the people you love safe. We want to create a future where we never have to answer another suicide call again.

One of the most difficult parts about realizing you may be suicidal is feeling like you can’t talk to anyone about it. 

Whether out of shame, or fear of how a loved one will react to finding out, reaching out to someone you know for help can be incredibly paralyzing. This sense of isolation can be dangerous, especially in moments of crisis. 

In these discouraging and frightening moments, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is there. 

What is the 988 Lifeline? 

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a free resource anyone experiencing a crisis can contact for help. 

988 Lifeline

The Lifeline connects people with skilled crisis counselors who listen and provide immediate support to guide you through the worst of your distress. They can also refer you to resources to help you keep yourself safe in the long term. 

The Lifeline is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as part of its ongoing mission to reduce suicide rates nationwide. 

They work with many local and government suicide prevention organizations to extend their reach everywhere in the United States.

Contacting the Lifeline is as simple as calling or texting 988. 

When Should I Reach Out?

The 988 Lifeline is for anyone who is thinking about suicide, concerned for a friend or loved one, or just in need of emotional support. This means you can call, text, or chat even if you are struggling but not yet in crisis. 

Reaching out

People call the Lifeline for any number of reasons:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Panic attacks
  • Struggling with substance abuse
  • Gender or sexual identity issues
  • Recovering from abuse
  • Loneliness

These are just a few concerns that may prompt someone to call, but they should illustrate that you don’t need to wait until you’re in severe distress to call. 

988 is a crisis service, but not an emergency service. This means if you are in emotional distress but aren’t yet in danger, it is the right time to call. 988 counselors are well-trained in methods to help you steer out of an emotional spiral and ground yourself. 

If you or the person you are helping is in immediate danger of harming themselves, call 911 right away. 

What Should I Expect When I Contact 988?

There are a few different ways you can contact the 988 Lifeline depending on your needs. You can call or send a text to 988, or you can chat with a counselor online at 988lifeline.org. Help is available in English or Spanish, and there are additional options for ASL speakers. 

Talk to a crisis counselor

Depending on how you choose to contact the Lifeline, here is what you can expect from the process: 

If you call… 

You will be greeted by an automated message and a phone tree. If you are a veteran, you can press 1 to be directed to the Veteran Crisis Line. For help in Spanish, you can press 2. Otherwise, you can remain on the line and you will be placed on a brief hold while you are connected to a counselor. 

If you text… 

After you send a text to 988 requesting help, you will receive a short survey to let the counselor know a little about your situation. After you respond, the text line will connect you to your counselor who will instruct you further. 

If you chat… 

Similar to the text line, you will receive a short survey asking about your situation so your counselor knows how to help. There will be a short wait time while you are connected, and then your counselor will instruct you further. 

They Will Listen and Help

Regardless of how you reach out, once you are connected to a counselor, they will listen to your problems and ask you questions to figure out the best way to help you. If needed, they may offer you steps to help you interrupt a panic attack or work your way out of a thought spiral. 

They will listen and help

Counselors may also walk you through some steps to keep yourself safe until the crisis has passed. Once they have seen to your immediate needs, they may direct you to resources online or in your community to help you find ongoing care for your mental health concerns. 

The 988 Lifeline is always free and always confidential, so you never need to worry about reaching out. 

Making a Difference

Suicide is on the rise and is one of the leading causes of death in our country, but it can be prevented. The 988 Lifeline is making huge strides in prevention efforts by providing people a place to turn when they feel hopeless. 

Having somebody to talk to can make all the difference

Studies have shown that almost 98% of people who contact the 988 Lifeline are able to work through their crisis without needing emergency services. Having somebody to talk to can make all the difference. 

Whether it’s yourself or a loved one, a suicidal crisis can be a scary thing to navigate. That’s why we at Bio-One hope this guide will help you know how to intervene to keep yourself or the people you love safe. 

Part of our mission is to provide community resources. That’s why we dedicate so much of our time to projects like this. We want to create a future where we never have to answer another suicide call again. 



If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.


Girl Upset - Suicide Prevention Resources

According to the American Psychiatric Association, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death (after accidents) for people aged 10 to 34. And according the CDC, published reports from 2020 suggest that the pandemic has had a negative effect on children’s mental health. 

“Beginning in April 2020, the proportion of children’s mental health–related ED visits among all pediatric ED visits increased and remained elevated through October. Compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health–related visits for children aged 5–11 and 12–17 years increased approximately 24%. and 31%, respectively.”

Researchers have yet to link recent suicides to the pandemic since 2020 suicide data is not yet available. But on the ground, there's growing concern.

The February 2021 NPR article “Child Psychiatrists Warn That The Pandemic May Be Driving Up Kids' Suicide Risk” explores possible correlation. Takeaways include:

  • NPR spoke with providers at hospitals in seven states across the country, and all of them reported a similar trend: More suicidal children are coming to their hospitals — in worse mental states.
  • The number of kids with suicide attempts coming to the emergency room at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, in California, in the fall of 2020 was double the number in the fall of 2019.
  • At Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, the number of children and teens hospitalized after suicide attempts went up from 67 in 2019 to 108 in 2020. And October 2020 saw a 250% increase in these numbers over the previous October.

For ways to help kids at risk, NPR encourages readers to read Part 2 of their story, “Make Space, Listen, Offer Hope: How To Help A Child At Risk Of Suicide”.

Suicide Prevention Resources

Survivors of Suicide – What to Do Next

The loss of a loved one by suicide can be a deeply painful and traumatizing experience; however, it’s important to know that everyone experiences suicide loss in their own way. As you begin the process of healing, consider reading the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s guide for to talk to others about what happened and identify ways to take care of yourself

Additionally, if you have lost someone to suicide, there may be a cleanup required. There is no need for family or friends of the loved one to be further traumatized or overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to clean the impacted area. Bio-One is here for you. Learn more about Bio-One’s suicide remediation services. 


If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.