How to Report a Suicidal Person

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Suicide is scary, and it is hard to know what to do when our friends or family members start talking about suicide. There are ways to report and notify others of these situations in hopes of keeping these people safe.

Statistics on Suicide

Suicide is prevalent in the US. More than 40,000 people die annually due to suicide, making it the 10th biggest killer in the United States. However, keep in mind that 25 times more people attempt suicide and don't succeed compared to those who commit suicide.

We all have likely had a friend or family member that we know has attempted or committed suicide. It is very sad and frightening when someone starts talking about harming themselves. Though it is hard to determine what to do, there are some simple ways to help others that are threatening suicide.

Do not take suicide lightly

How to Report a Suicidal Person on Social Media

Social media has made it even more complicated to determine how to report people who seem suicidal and to understand if the threat is idle, attention seeking, and/or valid. If the person constantly threatens suicide, but does not mean anything by the comments, it still does not hurt to speak with them. If you do not know if they mean the threats, being cautious is key. Be kind and understanding, but also ask the hard questions:

Do you feel like hurting yourself?

Are you suicidal?

Where are you?

What are you doing?

All of these things will give you a handle on the situation. If you are worried they may commit suicide, keep them talking online with you and dial 911. Even if they are not located in your hometown, and you may not even know their address, still call.

Talk to an adult. They will be able to help in getting these things reported so that you can continue to just talk with your friend or loved one.

While you talk to them, just let them vent. Don't doubt their intentions or get angry at their behavior. They are scared and thinking people don't care. So having a shoulder may be all they need, and it will give the police time to figure out where they are.

Another number to call is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK. Give this number to the person, and/or call it yourself. They are there as a support system in times like these.

Also remember each social media site has a reporting team as well. Since they have access to everyone's information, they may be able to help the police. So don't feel like you are letting your friend down if you seek outside assistance; report it, and make sure someone knows.

How to Report a Suicidal Person in Person

If you are with a suicidal person and they are threatening to commit suicide, remember the following.

  • Keep Calm
  • Listen
  • Be honest
  • Ask questions
  • Call 911

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