Watching a friend struggle can be overwhelming and heartbreaking. You want to help, but you’re not sure how to, and you are afraid they might be having suicidal thoughts. The best way to find out if someone is thinking about suicide is to ask. We have compiled ideas on ways to get your friend to open up about their thoughts and feelings.

Ways to Initiate a Conversation

•     “You seem distant. What’s going on?”

•     “I’ve noticed you seem anxious, and I’m wondering how you’re doing.”

•     “You don’t seem like yourself. I’m worried about you, and I’m curious about how you’re feeling.”

Ways to Keep the Conversation Going

•     “How long have you been feeling like this?”

•     “Can you tell me what you think made you begin to feel this way?”

•     “Are you having thoughts of hurting yourself?”

•     “Are you having thoughts of suicide?”

•     “What can I do to best support you right now?”

•     “What do you think about getting help?”

Phrases or Warning Signs to Watch for as You Talk

The friend may not be willing to confirm that he or she is struggling or thinking of suicide, but the following phrases are warning signs of unhealthy responses to stress:

•     Can’t stop the pain

•     Can’t think clearly

•     Can’t make decisions

•     Can’t see any way out

•     Can’t get out of depression

•     Can’t make the sadness go away

•     Can’t see the future without pain

•     Can’t see themselves as worthwhile

•     Can’t get someone’s attention

•     Can’t seem to get control

Next Steps if Your Friend is Suicidal

  • Escort your friend to help, whether it be a chaplain, Community Counseling Program, or hospital emergency room
  • Call for help by dialing either 911 or the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK


There are ways to assist those that need your help. If you see warnings signs, have an open conversation with your friend using these tools. For more information, visit your local Suicide Prevention program.