Dos and Don’ts



  • Request to talk with your friend in private. This may help minimize embarrassment and defensiveness.
  • Openly acknowledge that you are aware of their distress.
  • Speak directly and honestly and acknowledge you are sincerely concerned about their welfare.
  • Take your friend seriously - 80% of persons who die by suicide give warning of intent.
  • Be available to listen, to talk, to be concerned, and refer to resources.
  • Directly ask if your friend has been thinking about suicide. Asking this question WON'T increase their risk.
  • Talk with someone else (e.g., a counselor) about your concerns.
  • Listen carefully to why your friend is troubled and try to see the issue from their view without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing.
  • Attempt to identify the problem and explore options to deal with the problem.
  • Take care of yourself as the helper - get emotional support.
  • In a crisis, consider options for restricting the person's access to lethal means.



  • Don't ignore strange or inappropriate behavior.
  • Don't minimize the situation or depth of feeling, e.g.,"Oh it will be much better tomorrow."
  • Don't over commit yourself and not be able to deliver on what you promise.
  • Don't promise confidentiality.
  • Don't ignore your limitations, i.e., try to help beyond what you feel comfortable with.