Enable the Discussion

Tips to start a Discussion about Suicide with
Open Minds and Open Hearts

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Phone: 800-273-8255


In emergencies, call 911

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline:

Phone: 1-877-726-4727


For Those Who Support Others Struggling with Suicidal Thoughts and Ideation

Some Tips to Enable the Discussion:

First, for an overview of how CBT can work for suicidal thoughts and depression, watch this video. While it talks specifically about going to a Therapist to use CBT to help suicidal thoughts, the idea's can be expanded to other area's that experiencing depression can affect.

It starts with listening.

As someone who wants to support a person through depression, suicide, and self harm, listening without judgment is the primary tool to use. The purpose is to make it easier to talk about what a suicidal person may be thinking or feeling. By listening with an open mind and heart, you can create a safe space for your friend or family to open up. When you listen without judgment you can help them remove the shame of having these thoughts or feelings.

The next step would be to discuss what things have brought happiness or joy in their life - either currently or in the past.

Create a list of them or use the Hope Box mentioned in the video. Working with someone who is struggling to create a plan of action to stabilize their feelings can put both of you in a better position to respond to a crisis. Working together on this will also help to create a safe bond.

Find positive things to focus on.

Finding things to focus on when times get tough can help. It may be easy to focus on the feelings of depression which can include thoughts of worthlessness, hopelessness, lack of purpose or meaning, or previous traumatic experiences. Those traumatic experiences can feed into those thoughts of feeling valueless. Focusing on positive things that the person is familiar with can assist in overriding the urge to self harm or act on suicidal thoughts.

This is where questions could come into play.

You could ask questions about where they think the feelings and thoughts come from. What purpose would it serve to act on self harm urges or suicidal thoughts? If it is for relief, are there other ways to get relief from the pain? What is the pain telling them? What could they be missing from their life that would help them?

In all of this though, make sure it comes from a place of compassion and genuine care.