How to help someone with emotional pain


National Institute of Mental Health



Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there when you need it: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is a major public health concern. Over 40,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States; it is the 10th leading cause of death overall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2014, suicide was the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10–24.

Suicide is complicated and tragic but it is often preventable. Knowing how to help and what resources are available can help save lives.

5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain

Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.

Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.

Be there: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.

Help them connect: Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there when you need it: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.

Stay Connected: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.

More ways to help

Instant access: It may be helpful to save several emergency numbers to your cell phone. The ability to get immediate help for yourself or for a friend can make a difference. Numbers that are important include; the phone number for a trusted friend or relative, the non-emergency number for the local police department, the Crisis Text Line (741741), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), the Paint Valley ADAMH Board Ohio Suicide Prevention Hotline (740-335-7155), and the phone number for NAMI Southern Ohio (National Alliance of Mental Illness) (740-701-7297).

Social Media: Knowing how to get help for a social media friend can save a life. Contact the social media site directly if you are concerned about a friend’s updates or dial 911 in an emergency.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders. NIMH is one of the 27 Institutes and Centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest biomedical research agency in the world. NIH is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

National Institute of Mental Health

Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there when you need it: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).