Before starting a conversation with someone you are concerned about, be sure to have suicide crisis resources on hand.
Mention the signs that prompted you to ask about suicide. This makes it clear that you are not asking "out of the blue," and makes it more difficult for the person to deny that something is bothering them.
Ask directly about suicide. Talking about suicide does NOT put the idea in someone's head and usually they are relieved. Asking directly and using the word "suicide" establishes that you and the person at risk are talking about the same thing and lets the person know that you are willing to talk about suicide.
You may phrase the question in a different way. If they answer "yes" to your direct question about suicide stay calm, and don't leave the person alone until further help is obtained. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
2. Listen, express concern, reassure
Listen to the reasons the person has for both living and dying. Validate that they are considering both options and underscore that living is an option for them.
Let the person know you care. Letting them know that you take their situation seriously, and you are genuinely concerned about them, will go a long way in your effort to support them.
3. Create a Safety Plan
Ask the person if they have access to any lethal means (weapons, medications, etc.) and help remove them from the vicinity. (Another friend, family member or law enforcement agent may be needed to assist with this.)
Do not put yourself in danger; if you are concerned about your own safety, call 911.
Create a safety plan together. Ask the person what will help keep them safe until they meet with a professional.
Ask the person if they will refrain from using alcohol and other drugs or agree to have someone monitor their use.
Get a verbal commitment that the person will not act upon thoughts of suicide until they have met with a professional.
4. Get Help
Provide the person with the resources you have come prepared with. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at 1-800-273-8255.
If you feel the situation is critical, take the person to a nearby Emergency Room or walk-in psychiatric crisis clinic or call 9-1-1.
5. What not to say
Don't ask in a way that indicates you want "No" for an answer.
Don't tell the person to do it. You may want to shout in frustration or anger, but this is the most dangerous thing you can say.
Don't promise secrecy. The person may say that they don't want you to tell anyone that they are suicidal.
Say this instead:
You may be concerned that they will be upset with you, but when someone's life is at risk, it is more important to ensure their safety.