How Can You Tell if Someone Is Considering Suicide?

Direct verbal clues. A person saying, “I’m going to end my life, kill myself.”

Indirect verbal clues: A person saying, “Things will be better off when I’m not around any longer.”

Behavioral clues: A person putting their affairs in order, giving away prize possessions. A strong interest in religious and spiritual practices.

Situational clues: Death of a loved one, terminal illness, being terminated from employment; anticipated loss of financial security.

What Should You Do?

If you see these clues, talk to the person. Tell him or her what you have observed and ask how he is. Ask if he is thinking about committing suicide. If he says yes, take him to a hospital or doctor immediately. If he won’t go, or if you can’t ask the question, call 877-424-TLAP or 911. “It’s better to have someone really angry for a while,” Mary says, “than to have them die.”

“It’s less important how the question is asked and more important that the the question is asked,” says TLAP Deputy Director Ted Rice. “If you can’t ask, you need to find someone who can. Give the person plenty of time to express themselves in a safe and quiet and area. You can build a team. You are always encouraged to call TLAP for coaching, assistance and intervention planning.”

What if you feel that someone you know needs some kind of help, but you don’t know him or her that well and don’t think you should get involved? TLAP’s Laura Gatrell says to call anyway. You can give the information anonymously. And chances are good, she says, that it will help complete a picture because there have probably been other calls about the same person.