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Suicide Prevention For Adults


Your loved one may see suicide as the only way to escape emotional or physical pain and suffering. Call 911 if you feel your loved one is at immediate risk of suicide, or if he talks about an active suicide plan. Assume that he intends to carry out his plan. Watch for warning signs, and get him the help he needs.


If your loved one is having thoughts of suicide:

Resources are available to help you and your loved one. You can help provide emotional support for him and get the help he needs:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
  • Contact your loved one's therapist. Your loved one's primary healthcare provider can give you a list of therapists if he does not have one.
  • Keep medicines, weapons, and alcohol out of your loved one's reach. Do not leave your loved one alone. Stay with him if he says he wants to commit suicide or you think he may try it. Make sure you do not put yourself at risk if he has a weapon.
  • Do not be afraid to ask if he is thinking of ending his life. Ask if he has a plan for hurting or killing himself. Ask what he would use to kill himself and if he has it.

Watch for warning signs:

  • Your loved one talks about his plan for committing suicide, or suddenly decides to make a will.
  • Your loved one cuts himself, burns his skin with cigarettes, or drives recklessly.
  • Your loved one stops taking his prescribed medicine, or he takes too much.
  • Your loved one withdraws from others or stops doing things he enjoys.
  • Your loved one has trouble functioning at work.
  • You notice changes in the way your loved one eats, sleeps, or dresses. He may gain or lose weight, or have less energy than usual.


Medicine can help your loved one feel well enough to continue with all of the treatment he needs.

  • Antidepressants: These help reduce and control symptoms of depression. Rarely, antidepressants can make a person more likely to act on his suicidal thoughts. Your loved one will need to take this medication as directed. He must not stop taking this medicine unless directed. A sudden stop can be harmful. It may take 4 to 6 weeks for the medicine to help him feel better.
  • Mood stabilizers: These help prevent mood swings.
  • Antipsychotics: These help decrease symptoms of severe agitation and anger.
  • Have your loved one take medicines as directed: Call your loved one's primary healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working or is causing side effects. Tell him if your loved one is allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your loved one takes. Include the amounts, and when and why he takes them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry the medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


  • Problem-solving: This kind of therapy helps your loved one find the best way to solve problems. It may also help reduce his desire to commit suicide when he is faced with hard times.
  • Behavioral: Your loved one may need therapy to help reduce negative thoughts.

Follow up with your loved one's primary healthcare provider and therapist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

How to help your loved one:

  • Encourage him to seek help for drug or alcohol abuse. Drugs and alcohol can make suicidal feelings worse and make your loved one more likely to act on them.
  • Exercise with him. Exercise can lift his mood, give him more energy, and make it easier for him to sleep at night.
  • Help him create a sleep routine. Sleep is important for emotional health. Your loved one should try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Let your loved one's primary healthcare provider know if he is having difficulty sleeping.
  • Do activities with him that he enjoys. Simple things your loved one enjoys can help lift his spirits. He may want to keep a journal of his thoughts and feelings, including things he values.
  • Schedule a visit with his religious or spiritual leader. This person may be able to offer additional support and resources to your loved one.
  • Call a financial advisor for help with your loved one's money trouble if appropriate.

For support and more information:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    New York , NY 10004
    Phone: 1- 800 - 273-TALK (8255)
    Web Address:
  • Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
    8120 Penn Ave. S., Ste. 470
    Bloomington , Minnesota 55431
    Phone: 1- 952 - 946-7998
    Web Address:

Contact your loved one's primary healthcare provider or therapist if:

  • Your loved one has intense feelings of sadness, anger, revenge, or despair, or he cannot make decisions easily.
  • Your loved one tells you he has more thoughts of suicide when he is alone.
  • Your loved one withdraws from others.
  • Your loved one stops eating, or begins to smoke or drink heavily.
  • Your loved one feels he is a burden because of a disability or disease.
  • Your loved one has trouble dealing with stress, such as a breakup or a job loss.
  • You have questions or concerns about your loved one's condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your loved one has done something on purpose to hurt himself or tries to commit suicide.
  • Your loved one tells you he made a plan to commit suicide.
  • Your loved one acts out in anger, is reckless, or is abusing alcohol or drugs.
  • Your loved one has serious thoughts of suicide, even with treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.