Supporting Others

Listen to the Person

Be attentive and reach out to the person. Take the person seriously and listen carefully. Remain objective and non-judgmental. Assure the person that something can be done. Never promise to keep it a secret. Their life is too important.


Determine Risk

Be aware of the risk factors and warning signs. Ask the person directly about any intentions of suicide. Discuss suicide openly and honestly.


Get Help

Offer support and encourage hope. Focus on the person’s strengths. Agree to go get help with them. Don’t take on their problems; try to help connect them with someone who can support them. Take all threats seriously.


Never Do It Alone

Share responsibility by involving family, close friends, a family doctor, clergy, and/or other support services. Check in by phone, text or e-mail.


More Information

You can help others by being informed about how to safely talk about suicide. For more information on training to prepare yourself to have conversations around suicide, check out the SafeTALK and/or ASIST training through LivingWorks.


Source: Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council 


Questions to Consider when you’re concerned:

(The responses to the following questions will enable you to reflect back your concern to the person and/or communicate to a trained professional.)


  • Are you thinking of suicide?
  • Have you tried to end your life before?
  • Have you been feeling left out or alone?
  • Have you been feeling like you’re a burden?
  • Do you feel isolated and or disconnected?
  • Are you experiencing the feeling of being trapped?
  • Has someone close to you recently died by suicide?
  • How are you thinking of ending your life?
  • Do you have the means to do this (firearms, drugs, ropes)?
  • Have you been drinking or taken any drugs or medications?
  • How have you been sleeping?
  • Are you feeling more anxious than usual?
  • Who can we contact that you feel safe and/or comfortable with?


Source: Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention 


How to be Helpful When Someone is Suicidal

  • Take all threats or attempts seriously
  • Be aware and learn warning signs of suicide
  • Be direct and ask if the person is thinking of suicide.  If the answer is yes, ask if the person has a plan and what the time line is.
  • Be non-judgmental and empathic
  • Do not minimize the feelings expressed by the person
  • Do not be sworn to secrecy …seek out the support of appropriate professionals
  • Ask if there is anything you can do
  • Draw on resources in the person’s network
  • Do not use clichés or try to debate with the person
  • In an acute crisis take the person to an emergency room or walk in clinic or call a mobile crisis service if one is available
  • Do not leave them alone until help is provided
  • Remove any obvious means e.g. firearms, drugs or sharp objects) from the immediate vicinity


Source: International Association of Suicide Prevention