Truth or Myth?: Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will increase the likelihood of them committing suicide.

Myth! Research has actually shown that asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings will NOT push someone into engaging in self harm or committing suicide. In fact, the findings suggest that acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation. Asking about thoughts of suicide is in fact one of the number one things you can do to help and assist anyone who may have suicidal ideation.

So, what do you say if you are concerned about someone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts? Reach out and be direct. My “go-to” question is:

“Hey. You seem like you have been {quiet, tired, depressed, sad, not yourself etc} and I {love you, care for you, am concerned}. Have you thought about hurting yourself?”

Do not worry that you need to provide all the answers if they do have thoughts about committing suicide. They don’t expect you to have all the answers. They just need you to care enough to ask the question and get them to someone who can help. That is the easiest of the steps because all it requires is a phone.

Keep in mind that you can always call the National Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (or text “TALK” to 741741). {They both go to the same source.} This number is not just for the person who is currently feeling suicidal but also for anyone who is looking for assistance or advice on handling a situation where someone they know might be suicidal. You will be talking with a licensed mental health professional who will do a safety assessment to determine if you are calling for yourself or for someone that you are worried about; if you are in need of emotional support or if you are in crisis. They will talk with you and develop a safety plan and future resources where needed. You can call any day at anytime- 24/7.

So, don’t be afraid to reach out, acknowledge and discuss suicide if you are concerned about someone. There is hope and help and it all starts with asking the question–Just Ask!