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How to Help Someone in Crisis

5 Steps to Help Someone in Crisis

adapted from the #BeThe1To campaign of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  1. ASK


“How do you hurt?”

“Are you thinking about suicide?”

“How can I help you?”

Let the person know that you are willing to have this conversation in a supportive, non-judgmental manner. Give the person your undivided attention. Let them know you take this seriously. Do not promise to keep this information a secret. Listen for any of the following:

  • talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • talking about being a burden to others
  • increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • isolating themselves
  • seeking revenge

In addition to listening for the reasons the person is hurting and is considering suicide, pay attention to the reasons the person wants to continue to live. Highlight the reasons the person wants to live in your conversation with them.


Once you are clear that you are having a conversation about suicide determine the danger level.

Consider the following while making your determination:

  • has the person previously tried to kill themselves or physically harmed themselves
  • is the person thinking about ways to kill themselves
  • has the person developed a plan
  • what is the timing of the plan
  • Do they have the means to accomplish their plan (weapons, medications, etc.)

The more detailed the plan and the more accessible the means the more dangerous the situation is. Removing access to means can assist by putting time and distance between the person and their plan. For example: Is there somewhere else they are willing to store their gun? Are they willing to store their medications at their sister’s house?

Be familiar withthe local resources for outside assistance and how to access them. What are the hours of operation and location? What is the process for securing services? Share this information with the person. If the person’s plan is immediate you may need to call authorities or transport them to the hospital or local crisis center.


Make a commitment to continue to show support of the person. Do not commit to any plan for support that you cannot follow through on. Keep the connection either by meeting with the person or speaking to them on the phone. This will reduce the amount of isolation they may feel. Talk about other support resources available. Listen for who the person might find the most supportive (crisis counselor, school psychologist, pastor, mental health counselor, etc.)


Help the person connect with the resources available. Offer to make a phone call to a resource or transport them. Encourage the person to develop a safety plan. Who do they want to contact when they are beginning to feel in crisis? What has worked for them before? What are the signs they recognize when they are in crisis?

They may wish to use My3App, a free safety plan service that can be downloaded on a smart phone. It is best if the person develops their safety plan with a professional. My3App, reminds the person of their 3 most supportive contacts in times of crisis (a neighbor, teacher, mentor).


After you have assisted the person in making a connection to the resources they feel are supportive, follow up. Meet with them, call or text. Ask how they are doing and if there is anything else you can do to assist.