Stop suicide: How can you help someone in crisis?

September 20, 2023 | by NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Minds

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Too many lives are lost to suicide every day, and the repercussions are far-reaching. Those left behind are traumatized, shocked, devastated.

Suicide results from a complicated array of risk factors. Since suicide is often preceded by one or more attempts, the risk is heightened for the entire first year after an attempt — especially the first six months after a hospitalization.

Intervention is critical, yet many people with suicidal thoughts don’t get professional help. How can you help someone in crisis?

Most people who attempt or complete suicide make their intentions known ahead of time by either talking about it or giving other clues. Pay attention and take warning signs of suicide seriously. Once warning signs are identified, action should be taken immediately.

With professional help, many individuals can recover and may never be suicidal again. An evidence-based treatment plan may include hospitalization/inpatient care, outpatient care, medication, and individual and family therapy. At-risk individuals can learn coping skills, what to do when thoughts of suicide arise, and how to re-connect with reasons for living.

Alongside professional help, below are some ways to help a loved one:

  • Be present. Even when you don’t know what to say, one of the best ways to help your loved one is to just be there with them. Your loved one may perceive themselves as being alone or a burden on you and others. Listen and let them know that you care and you’re there for them. A common misconception is that asking someone about suicide will put the idea in a person’s mind. This is not true. The reality is that talking about it often brings a sense of relief to the person in crisis and gives you a chance to connect with them.

  • Talk openly about a safety plan. Encourage your loved one to communicate openly with their therapist/counselor and develop a safety plan. Save the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number (call or text 988) in their phone so it’s there if they need it.

  • Encourage self-care and socialization. Encourage your loved one to engage in healthy eating, sleeping, exercise, relaxation and stress management activities. Help them connect with a trusted individual like a family member, friend or spiritual advisor.

  • Create a safe environment. Take action to reduce your loved one’s access to lethal places or means, such as removing or safely storing firearms and medications. Firearms are used in more than 50% of suicides (CDC).

Suicide is everyone’s concern. We can all work together to help prevent it.

NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health is committed to taking steps to prevent suicide and raise awareness for mental health.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, 24/7 help is available:

  • Call 911
  • Call or text 988 or chat at
  • Call 630-305-5027 (Linden Oaks 24/7 Help Line)
  • Call 800-273-TALK (8255) (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)
  • Text TALK to 741741 (Crisis Text Line)

Non-emergency resources

  • Complete an online Behavioral Health Inquiry Form
  • Take an online health risk assessment for anxiety, depression and/or addiction
  • Linden Oaks Behavioral Health: 630-305-5027 or learn more
  • Northwest Community Healthcare: 847-HEALING (847-432-5464)
  • NorthShore Mental Health Counseling Line: 847-425-6400
  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to help someone in crisis: Learn more

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