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Talking About Suicide And Depression

How do you talk to someone you think is considering suicide?

Talking about suicide and depression can be unnerving and unsettling. Determining whether someone is experiencing depression or is considering taking their own life can be difficult. You can help by taking the first step. Talking to someone who suffering from depression and considering suicide opens the door for them to share and get the help they need.

We are all in this together.

The information below will help you start the discussion more comfortably.

Express Concern

Start by directly expressing concern if you think a person may be in pain and considering suicide. If you have noticed a change in this person, you can let them know. It can be as simple as "I have noticed you're not yourself lately, is everything okay?" or "I'm worried about you. Can we talk about what might be troubling you?"

When you genuinely ask someone how they feel and if you can help, you show that you care. You are also telling this person that this is a safe place to talk. Openly and honestly asking if someone is in pain or considering suicide gives them the foundation to take the steps toward getting the help that they need.


Listen carefully to what they are saying. Repeat what the individual is saying in your own phrasing. Paraphrasing shows the person you are listening, you care, and helps to confirm that you understood their situation correctly. Maintain eye contact and positive body language so that they feel comfortable and know they have your attention. Listening can often be the support one needs to know that someone cares for them.

Offer reassurance

Many times, a person who is depressed and considering suicide feels that they are in a hopeless situation or unbearable pain. Let the individual know you care for them and that they are not alone. Be understanding and non-judgmental in your statements. Remind the person that they will not feel like this forever and offer realistic hope. Many situations weren't created overnight and will improve. Avoid minimizing or dismissing the situation so they know you are taking them seriously. Validate that they are experiencing these feelings and help them to know that that the situation will get better.


The old thought that you should not bring up suicide with someone who is in pain is a myth. Direct language can clarify whether a person is considering hurting themselves or considering suicide. These are different questions. Use empathy when asking if someone is considering suicide. "At times, people who are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless consider taking their own life. Has suicide crossed your mind, even just for a moment?"

Know When To Act

Simply having the conversation is an indication that it is time to act. Whether someone is actively considering suicide or passively (suicidal ideation), they are in need of an appropriate amount of care from a professional.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal ideation, you can help ensure they receive the help they need. Encourage the individual to seek professional help from a therapist so they can gain the insight and tools they need to cope. Offer to help research and look into therapists and treatment if they do not feel like they are up for it themselves. Check up on them regularly and offer activities that will help divert their attention to something more positive.

If someone is having active thoughts of suicide you can connect to Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line (Text HOME to 741741). These crisis lines are available 24 hours a day.


Spencer-Thomas, S. (2019, September 09). How to Ask Someone About Suicide. Retrieved September 09, 2020, from

Spencer-Thomas, S. (2019, September 09). How to Ask Someone About Suicide. Retrieved September 09, 2020, from

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