Suicide Prevention for Teens

If Your Friend Talks About Ending Their Life

If your friend says something about feeling suicidal or that they want to end their life, you must take it seriously. Even if you feel scared and unsure of what to do, you can help. You can make a difference in your friend’s life.

Talking to a friend who is suicidal (PDF)

Warning Signs of Suicide (PDF)

Suicidal Thoughts

Here are some ways you can support your friend:

DON’T KEEP A SECRET. Your friend could get hurt or could die. This information is not something you should keep secret. You must tell an adult who can help keep your friend safe. Your friend’s life could depend on it.

Call 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355). Explain what your friend is going through. They will give you advice on what to do. These calls are confidential.

LISTEN TO YOUR FRIEND. Be there to listen. Let your friend express feelings and show understanding and acceptance. Don’t judge your friend.

TALK TO YOUR FRIEND. It’s better to talk to your friend when they are calm and seem open to listening. It may be hard to think of what to say. You can say something like,

“I’m worried about you.”

“You said you don’t feel like carrying on, you wish you were gone, do you still feel like that?”

“Even if you’re thinking about that, you don’t have to do it.”

“If you hurt yourself, you’ll be hurting me too and all the people who care about you.”

ENCOURAGE YOUR FRIEND TO GET HELP. If you feel comfortable, suggest to your friend that you go with them to speak to a counselor, youth worker, teacher, or doctor. If your friend refuses to get help, keep encouraging your friend to speak to someone they trust about how they are feeling.

BE SUPPORTIVE. Tell your friend you care about them. Spend time hanging out with them. Go to the movies. Go for a walk together. Listen to music together. This will help your friend feel less alone.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. If you’re worried about your friend, you may feel stressed out. You may feel like it’s your fault that your friend is not feeling better. Sometimes teens who make a suicide attempt, or who die as a result of suicide seem to have left no clues. This leaves friends and family feeling full or grief and guilt. But you should remember that you are not responsible for the actions of your friend. It’s not your fault.

Warning Signs of Suicide Risk

Most people who are feeling depressed or desperate enough to consider suicide give clues to how they're feeling. You can be the first step towards help for someone you care about by learning to recognize these clues to suicide risk.

Verbal Signs

"I want to kill myself."

"I don't want to be here anymore."

"No one understands me."

"I can't take it anymore."

"Things will never get better."

"I'm tired of being a burden to my friends and family."

"No one would miss me if I were gone."

Physical Changes

  • Losing or gaining weight quickly
  • Suddenly not caring about appearances or cleanliness
  • Unexplained cuts, scrapes or bruises
  • Appearing tired all the time

Acting Differently

  • Changes in mood: more withdrawn, anxious or sad, or sudden mood lift after a down period
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Suddenly taking more risks: not taking prescribed medication, drunk driving, ignoring physical limitations, having unprotected sex, using more drugs or alcohol
  • Loss of concentration.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Losing interest in things that used to be enjoyed.
  • Not planning for the future
  • Hurting oneself on purpose
  • Thinking and talking about death a lot
  • Unexplained good-byes or unusual personal expressions that have a sense of closure

Situations

  • Recently having lost a loved one, relationship or job
  • Having money problems
  • Having questions or worries about being gay, bisexual or transgender
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Recent death of a loved one
  • Problems in an important relationship
  • Problems at work or school
  • Social isolation

If you know someone for whom more than one of these is true, she or he may need your help. Not sure how to help? Call us. The Samaritans. 24 hours a day, at 617-247-0220 or 508-875-4500.

* Material courtesy of the Samaritans

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