How Talk to Someone You Are Concerned Maybe Suicidal

  • Published
  • By Amy Kemp-Wellmeier
  • 908th Airlift Wing

Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ASK. In fact, giving a person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt. Below are some ideas of ways you can start a conversation.

What you can say that helps:

“You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”

“You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”

“I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”

“When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.”

Questions you can ask:

When did you begin feeling like this?”

“Did something happen to make you start feeling this way?”

“How can I best support you right now?”

“Have you thought about getting help?”

Ways to start a conversation about suicide:

I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”

“Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”

“I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”


Dos and Don’ts to Remember When Talking to a Suicidal Person


Be yourself. Finding the right words are not as important as showing your concern.

Listen.  Just let them vent.

Be sympathetic and non-judgmental.  Even though it can be difficult to hear the others negativity.

Offer hope.  Let the person know their life is important to you, and that the suicidal feeling are temporary.

Take the person seriously. If they make comments that seem like thy maybe having suicidal thoughts, ask them directly of their plans.


Act shocked.  As difficult as it can be to hear the person talking of suicide, know they are trusting you to vent and unload their feelings.

Promise confidentiality.  You may need to speak with a mental health professional or command to ensure the safety of the individual. 

Offer quick fixes for problems. Don’t lecture, argue, give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal thoughts and feelings. 

Take responsibly for “fixing” the person. All you are responsible for is caring enough to listen and get them to the appropriate help.


You can call or stop by any of the 908th Support Service Providers for more information or to discuss any concerns you may have.


-Amy Kemp, (908th Director of Psychological Health)                334-953-5980 or 334-782-9809

-908th Chaplin (TR)                                                                     334-953-5372

-Airman and Family Readiness                                                   334-953-9018

-Military Family Life Counselor                                                    334-559-0702

-Veterans Crisis Line                                                                   1-800-273-8255

-National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Available 24 hours).        1-800-273-8255