“How to Help Someone in Crisis,” How to Help (2018).
“How to Help Someone in Crisis,” How to Help.
How to Help Someone in Crisis
Always take seriously the warning signs of suicide and any threats to attempt suicide, even if you think the individual is not seriously thinking about suicide or is just seeking attention. Follow these three steps to offer support—Ask, Care, Tell.
Step 1: Ask. Ask the person directly if they are thinking about suicide. You might ask, “Are you thinking about ending your life?” If they say that they are thinking about suicide, ask them if they have a plan. You might ask, “Do you have a plan to hurt yourself?” If they have a plan, immediately help them get to a hospital or healthcare clinic, or call an emergency service provider or crisis help line in your area. (See “Crisis Help Lines” for links to help lines around the world.) If they do not have a plan, move to step 2.
Step 2: Care. Show that you care by listening to what they say. Give them time to explain how they are feeling. Respect their feelings by saying something such as, “I’m sorry you are in so much pain” or “I didn’t realize how hard things were for you.” You might offer to help them create a suicide-prevention safety plan (see “How to Create a Suicide-Prevention Safety Plan,” Doug Thomas, Ensign, Sept. 2016, 63). A safety plan can help people identify their personal strengths, positive relationships, and healthy coping skills. It can also reduce their access to means of self-harm, such as weapons or pills. If they ask you not to tell anyone about their feelings, explain that you will respect their privacy as much as possible but they need more help than you can give. Never promise to keep their thoughts of suicide secret.
Step 3: Tell. Encourage the person to tell someone who can offer more support. Share contact information for helpful resources in your area. Resources may include community hospitals, urgent care clinics, or free crisis helplines. If they will not seek help, you need to tell someone for them. You may want to say something such as, “I care about you and want you to be safe. I am going to tell someone who can offer you the help you need.” Respect their privacy by telling only someone you think can help, such as a close family member, the person’s bishop, a school counselor, a doctor, or another health care professional. If you are not sure who to tell, talk to your bishop or call a free crisis help line in your area. Remember, you are not expected to support the person on your own.
Note: If you are leading a discussion, consider asking participants to practice these steps. Give them a situation where someone comes to them and expresses suicidal thoughts, and ask them to practice how they would respond.
Welfare Help Line (for stake presidents, bishops, and branch presidents).
“Taking Time to Talk and Listen,” Rosemary M. Wixom, Ensign, Apr. 2012, 10–13.
“Preventing Suicide,” Carol F. McConkie (video, suicide.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
“I’m Worried about Someone,” suicide.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
“Suicide,” Counseling Resources, ChurchofJesusChrist.org (for stake and ward council members).