What to Do When Someone You Love is Suicidal - Eden Newmark

If a friend or family member discloses thoughts of suicide to you, we want you to know that you are not alone, and neither is the person you love. Many resources can assist you both in getting the help you need.

For World Mental Health Day, we asked our clinicians to share what they wish more people knew about mental health. In this blog, Eden Newmark shares how to talk with a friend or family member about suicidal thoughts.
If a friend or family member discloses thoughts of suicide to you, we want you to know that you are not alone, and neither is the person you love. Many resources can assist you both in getting the help you need.
If you think your loved one has a specific plan to harm themselves with the intent to act and/or the means to do so, call 911 immediately. If the idea of calling 911 scares you or if you fear losing the trust of the one you love, remind yourself that their life is the priority in this moment and you are being supportive in a time of serious need. Safety comes first.
Your friend or family member trusted you enough to tell you that they are considering ending their own life. This means that they do want help. Let them know that treatment is available, and recovery is possible. 
If your friend or loved one goes to the emergency room or hospital for suicidal thoughts, this does not necessarily mean that they will get admitted to an inpatient unit. Hospitalization is not always required for individuals who are thinking of harming themselves. Our Mood and Anxiety Program offers Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient treatment for many different emotional and mental health issues, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
You are not a mental health professional and you do not have to be the one to save their life. Let the trained medical team determine the most appropriate next steps and treatment options, if necessary.
Finally, practice your own self-care. Taking care of yourself means you can continue to be there for the person you love. The oxygen mask metaphor is incredibly accurate: if you do not help yourself first, you will not be able to help anyone else. 
Eden Newmark, LCSW, RYT is the Director of ERC/Insight’s Mood and Anxiety Residential Program.

A note from ERC/Insight:

The intent of World Mental Health Day, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. This year, in 2018, WHO hopes to raise awareness of mental health issues in young people and adolescents. 

  • Half of all people with mental illness will show signs before the age of 14. Sadly, most of these individuals will not be identified as having a health problem. No treatment will be provided.
  • Drug and alcohol use among adolescents is prevalent in many countries. This is highly risky behavior as it can lead to unsafe sex and impulsive, dangerous driving.
  • In those between the ages of 15 and 29, suicide is the second leading cause of death. 

Drug/alcohol use and suicide are signs of mental health issues. Treatment and intervention for these issues is available and can be highly effective. It’s never too late to admit that you need help. It’s never too late to make a phone call to a therapist, a crisis hotline or even a friend. It’s never too late to make a change.
We offer these resources to you, to help you give yourself or a loved one a better experience in this life.

  • To speak confidentially with one of our Master’s-level counselors about treatment options for mental health issues, please call us at 1-877-711-1690.
  • If you are facing a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, confidential support to people in distress at 1-800-273-8255

The call you make may save a life.
References: The World Health Organization & National Eating Disorders Association
Related Reading:

eden newmark
insight behavioral health centers
world mental health day