Top 7 Ways YOU Can Help Prevent Suicide

Throughout the United States, September is observed as Suicide Prevention Awareness Prevention Month. And, while it may seem pretty apparent that suicide is a national problem, it may feel like it’s a problem only for the mental health community to solve. However, that’s not true at all. Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center therapists have a few tips for helping someone who may be considering suicide or is in a mental health crisis leading them toward hurting themselves.

  1. Be Proactive. Having a conversation with someone about their mental health will probably be uncomfortable. However, it can make a HUGE difference. Instead of waiting for someone you see struggling to ask for help (which they may never do), ask them some questions and start up the conversation.
  2. Exhibit genuine interest and ask questions. Questions might include:
    • “It seems like you’re not yourself today. Do you want to talk about what’s wrong?”
    • “I’ve noticed you’re a little down. Can we talk about how you’re feeling?”
    • “You look like something might be bothering you. What’s on your mind?”
  3. Encourage them to keep talking and offer support. As the conversation gets started, really listen to your friend or family member. Hear what they have to say. Express concern about their worries and empathize with them. Offer support. Statements could be:
  • “I can imagine how tough this must be for you.”
  • “I’m so glad you’re telling me about what’s going on and how you’re feeling. Thank you for sharing with me.”
  • “I’m right here with you. Nothing changes how I feel about you.”
  • “Wow – this situation sounds difficult. How can I help you get through this?”
  1. Be direct with questions about suicide. Trust your instincts if you get the feeling someone is considering harming themselves or committing suicide. Research indicates saying “suicide” will NOT push someone to action or put the idea in their head. Do NOT pass judgment. Examples are:
  • “Are you thinking of doing something to end your life?”
  • “Does it sometimes get so tough you are thinking of killing yourself?”
  • “Do you have plans to hurt yourself?”
  1. Talk it through. Even though it’s scary to think your friend or family member is mentally preparing to take their own life, it’s up to you provide a calm voice. Stay with them. Help them remove lethal means. Encourage them to seek help. Assist them in finding resources.
  2. Don’t assume they’re talking to others. It’s a mistake to think they’re sharing their situation with others. You might be the only person your friend or family member has confided in. Take their words seriously and never discount their concerns. Help them create a safety plan. Assist them in putting together a list of people they can talk to for help, including mental health professionals and loved ones who can offer support and love.
  3. Be patient. It’s hard for someone to talk to you about their problems. They may need encouragement and patience along the way as they share their emotions. Many people experience shame, anxiety and despair as they share their suicide thoughts with others. You may not have the right words – or even know what to say at all when they share their thoughts. Sometimes, it’s enough to just sit and be with someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis that is making them consider suicide.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

If someone you know is exhibiting warning signs of ending their life, encourage them to reach out for help. One resource is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline3, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, is now an easy-to-remember 24/7 resource for reaching trained crisis counselors who can help with suicide, mental health and substance use-related crises. (988 replaces a longer and harder to remember 10-digit phone number.) Much like calling 911 in an emergency, people in crisis or those having thoughts of suicide may call or text 988 for immediate assistance during anytime of the day or night.

About Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center

The mission of the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center is to provide, advocate and coordinate quality mental health care, services and programs for people in its service area. Our vision is to improve the qualify of life in southeast Kansas. We offer services and programs in the following counties: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Linn, Neosho and Woodson. Our core services include outpatient psychiatry, therapy, consultation, chemical abuse counseling, case management, educational and skill-building groups, specialty training, physical healthcare coordination and 24/7 crisis intervention services. For more information, visit




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