How to get help for someone who might be suicidal

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between ages 10 and 24. That’s much higher than the general population where it’s the 10th leading cause of death according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s important to recognize the potential warning signs when someone intends to end their life as laid out here from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

Suicide rates in the U.S. have increased more than 25% since 1999. They’re also rising worldwide with some one million people dying annually from suicide. The World Health Organization estimates a global suicide rate of one death every 40 seconds. By 2020 they predict someone will take their life every 20 seconds.

If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, here are ways to help:

Call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It provides free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people in suicidal crisis or distress. You can learn more about its services here, including its guide on what to do if you see suicidal language on social media. You can also call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone about how you can help a person in crisis. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

For the TrevorLifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community, call 1-866-488-7386.

Text HOME to 741741 to have a confidential text conversation with a trained crisis counselor from Crisis Text Line. Counselors are available 24/7. You can learn more about how the texting service works here.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention aims to improve awareness by hosting conferences and community walks for survivors and their families.

For online chat, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a confidential chat window, with counselors available 24/7.

Boys Town also provides counselors for youth-specific online chat at this link. It is available every Monday through Friday between 6 p.m. and midnight in the Central time zone.

Getting help around the world

For support outside of the US, a worldwide directory of resources and international hotlines is provided by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. You can also turn to Befrienders Worldwide.

Another way to help is by supporting the nonprofits that provide suicide counseling, prevention and education. Volunteers are needed, and some train to become counselors.

Online donations for some of these organizations can be made by clicking the button above.

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