Talking to someone who may be suicidal

  • Published
  • By Public Affairs
  • 624th Regional Support Group

Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ASK. In fact, giving a person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt. Below are some ideas of ways you can start a conversation.


What you can say that helps:

“You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”

“You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”

“I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”

“When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.”


Questions you can ask:

“When did you begin feeling like this?”

“Did something happen to make you start feeling this way?”

“How can I best support you right now?”

“Have you thought about getting help?”


Ways to start a conversation about suicide:

“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”

“Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”

“I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”


Dos and Don’ts to Remember When Talking to a Suicidal Person




Be yourself. Finding the right words are not as important as showing your concern.


Listen.  Just let them vent.


Be sympathetic and non-judgmental.  Even though it can be difficult to hear the others negativity.


Offer hope.  Let the person know their life is important to you, and that the suicidal feeling are temporary.


Take the person seriously. If they make comments that seem like thy maybe having suicidal thoughts, ask them directly of their plans.




Act shocked.  As difficult as it can be to hear the person talking of suicide, know they are trusting you to vent and unload their feelings.


Promise confidentiality.  You may need to speak with a mental health professional or command to ensure the safety of the individual.


Offer quick fixes for problems. Don’t lecture, argue, give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal thoughts and feelings.


Take responsibly for “fixing” the person. All you are responsible for is caring enough to listen and get them to the appropriate help.


You can call or stop by any of base service providers for more information or to discuss any concerns you may have.


Andersen Air Force Base, Guam:

- Mental Health, 36th Medical Group in Building 10088, 671-366-9355 (WELL)

- Airman and Family Readiness, 671-366-8136

- Military Family Life Counselor, 671-689-0526

- Chaplain, 671-366-6139


Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii:

- Mental Health, 15th Medical Group in Building 554, 808-448-6377

- Military and Family Support Center, Suicide/Crisis Assistance , 808-832-3100 (HOTLINE)

- Military Family Life Counselor, 808-796-4520 or 571-835-6365

- Chaplain, 808-212-9988


Additional Resources:

- Veterans Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255

- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Available 24 hours), 1-800-273-8255

- Military OneSource, Military Crisis Line, 800-273-8255, then press 1, or access online chat by texting 838255

- For more information on early intervention, visit


Together we can make a difference!


Story information courtesy of Amy Kemp-Wellmeier, 908th Airlift Wing