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Reach Out: How To Help Someone At Risk Of Suicide

Apr 20, 2019
Originally published on January 25, 2021 3:45 pm

Updated Jan. 25, 2021

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.


The pandemic has taken a heavy emotional toll on many people, and if you know someone struggling with despair, depression or thoughts of suicide, you may be wondering how to help.

Many Americans — children and teens in particular — are finding these feelings have worsened in the pandemic. Hospital emergency departments saw a rise between March and October in the number of children in mental health crisis.

Most Americans recently surveyed say that they understand that suicide is preventable and that they would act to help someone they know who is at risk.

Yet many of us are afraid to do the wrong thing. In fact, you don't have to be a trained professional to help, says Doreen Marshall, a psychologist and vice president of programs at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

"Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention," she says. But "most people hold back. We often say, 'Trust your gut. If you're worried about someone, take that step.' "

And that first step starts with simply reaching out, says Marshall. It may seem like a small thing, but survivors of suicide attempts and suicide experts say, it can go long way.

Simple acts of connection are powerful, says Ursula Whiteside, a psychologist and a faculty member at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

"Looking out for each other in general reduces [suicide] risk," says Whiteside. "Because people who feel connected are less likely to kill themselves."

And "the earlier you catch someone," she adds, "the less they have to suffer."

Here are nine things you can do that can make a difference.

1. Recognize the warning signs

Signs of suicide risk to watch for include changes in mood and behavior, Marshall says.

"For example, someone who is usually part of a group or activity and you notice that they stop showing up," explains Marshall. "Someone who is usually pretty even-tempered and you see they are easily frustrated or angry."

If you're only seeing your loved ones virtually because of the pandemic, pay attention if they start withdrawing from virtual spaces, too, says Whiteside.

Maybe "they're not responding to phone calls or they're not joining in on a call with family or they're not on social media," she says. "That's one time that it makes sense to get curious about what's going on with your friend — when people start to disappear."

Other signs include feeling depressed, anxious, irritable or losing interest in things.

Pay attention to a person's words, too.

"They may talk about wanting to end their lives or seeing no purpose or wanting to go to sleep and never wake up," says Marshall. "Those are signs that they may be thinking about [suicide]. It may be couched as a need to get away from, or escape the pain."

According to the AFSP, people who take their own lives often show a combination of these warning signs.

And the signs can be different for different people, says Madelyn Gould, a professor of epidemiology in psychiatry at Columbia University who studies suicide and suicide prevention.

"For some people, it might be starting to have difficulty sleeping," she says. Someone else might easily feel humiliated or rejected.

"Each one of these things can put [someone] more at risk," explains Gould, "Until at some point, [they're] not in control anymore."

2. Reach out and ask, "Are you OK?"

So, what do you do when you notice someone is struggling and you fear they may be considering suicide?

Reach out, check in and show you care, say suicide prevention experts.

"The very nature of someone struggling with suicide and depression, [is that] they're not likely to reach out," says Marshall. "They feel like a burden to others."

People who are having thoughts of suicide often feel trapped and alone, explains DeQuincy Lezine, a psychologist and a member of the board of directors of the American Association of Suicidology. He is also a survivor of suicide attempts.

When someone reaches out and offers support, it reduces a person's sense of isolation, he explains.

"Even if you can't find the exact words [to say], the aspect that somebody cares makes a big difference," says Lezine.

Questions like "Are you doing OK?" and statements like "If you need anything, let me know" are simple supportive gestures that can have a big impact on someone who's in emotional pain, explains Julie DeGolier, a medical assistant in Seattle and a survivor of suicide attempts. It can interrupt the negative spiral that can lead to crisis.

The website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a list of do's and don'ts when trying to help someone at risk.

3. Be direct: Ask about suicide

"Most people are afraid to ask about suicide, because they [think they] don't want to put the thought in their head," says Marshall. "But there's no research to support that."

Instead, she and other suicide prevention experts say discussing suicide directly and compassionately with a person at risk is key to preventing it.

One can ask a direct question like, "Have you ever had thoughts of suicide?" says Marshall.

More general questions like, "What do you think of people who kill themselves?" can also open up a conversation about suicide, says Gould. "Now they are talking about it, when you might not have had the conversation before."

4. Assess risk and don't panic: Suicidal feelings aren't always an emergency

Say a loved one confides in you that they have been thinking about suicide, what do you do then?

"Don't let yourself panic," says Whiteside.

People often believe that a person considering suicide needs to be rushed to the hospital. But "not everyone who expressed these thoughts needs to be hospitalized immediately," says Marshall.

Research shows that most people who've had suicidal thoughts haven't had the kind of overpowering thoughts that might push them to make an attempt, explains Whiteside. In other words, many more people experience suicidal thoughts than take action on them.

But how do you know whether your loved one's situation is an immediate crisis?

Whiteside suggests asking direct questions like: "Are you thinking of killing yourself in the next day or so?" and "How strong are those urges?"

For help with this conversation, psychiatrists at Columbia University have developed the Columbia Protocol, which is a risk-assessment tool drawn from their research-based suicide severity rating scale. It walks you through six questions to ask your loved one about whether they've had thoughts about suicide and about the means of suicide and whether they have worked out the details of how they would carry out their plan.

Someone who has a plan at hand is at a high risk of acting on it — according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, about 38 percent of people who have made a plan go on to make an attempt.

5. If it's a crisis, stick around

So what if you've assessed risk and you fear your loved one is in immediate crisis? First, request them to hold off for a day or so, says Whiteside, at the same time being "validating and gentle."

The kind of intense emotions that might make someone act on an impulse, "usually resolve or become manageable in less than 24 or 48 hours," she says. If you can, offer to stay with them during that time period, she adds. Or, if that's hard because of the pandemic, offer to be present virtually via video call. Otherwise, help them find other immediate social support or medical help. They shouldn't be alone at these times of crisis.

Ask whether they have any means of harming themselves at hand and work with them to remove those things from their environment. Research shows that removing or limiting access to means reduces suicide deaths.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers this guide to the five action steps to take if someone you know is imminent danger.

If you don't feel confident about helping someone through a crisis period, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, says Gould.

6. Listen and offer hope

If the person is not in immediate risk, it is still important to listen to them, say survivors of suicide attempts like Lezine and DeGolier.

"The biggest thing is listening in an open-minded way, to not be judgmental," says DeGolier.

"Don't tell a person what to do. They're looking to be heard, to have their feelings acknowledged."

The next step is to offer hope, says Whiteside. It helps to say things like, "I know how strong you are. I've seen you get through hard things. I think we can get through this together," she explains.

One of Lezine's closest friends in college did just that during his suicidal phases, he says.

"For one thing, she never lost faith in me," says Lezine. "She always believed I have a positive life possible and I would achieve good things."

He says her faith in him kept him from giving in to his despair completely.

"Having somebody, a confidante who absolutely believed as a person in [my] ability to do something meaningful in life" was instrumental in his recovery, he says.

7. Help your loved one make a safety plan

When a person is not in immediate risk of attempting suicide, it's a good time to think about preventing a future crisis.

"That's where we want to make help-seeking and adaptive coping strategies a practice," says Gould.

Suicide prevention experts advise people develop what's known as a safety plan, which research has shown can help reduce suicide risk. It's a simple plan for how to cope and get help when a crisis hits, and typically, an at-risk person and their mental health provider create it together, but a family member or friend can also help.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a template for creating a safety plan. It includes making a list of the person's triggers and warning signs of a coming crisis, people they feel comfortable reaching out to for help and activities they can do to distract themselves during those times — it can be something simple as watching a funny movie.

Safety planning includes helping your loved one make their environment safer. This includes a conversation about the means they would use when considering suicide, and is one of the most important steps to preventing suicide, says Marshall.

"If you ask what kinds of thoughts you're having, they may tell you the means," she says.

If they don't volunteer that information, it's worth asking them directly, she adds. Once they say what means they have thought of using, one can discuss with them how to limit their access to it.

"The more time and space you can put between the person and harming themselves, the better," says Marshall. "If this is someone who is a firearm owner, you may talk with them to make sure they don't have ready access to firearm in moments of crisis."

8. Help them tackle the mental health care system

When someone is in urgent crisis mode, it's often not the best time to try to navigate the mental health care system, says DeGolier. But to prevent a future crisis, offer to help your loved one connect with a mental health professional to find out whether medications can help them and to learn ways to manage their mood and suicidal thinking.

A kind of talk therapy called dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, has been shown to be effective in reducing risk of suicide. It teaches people strategies to calm their minds and distract themselves when the suicidal thoughts surface.

One bright side of the pandemic is that mental health providers are doing most appointments virtually, so it has expanded access to care for many.

Still, it can be hard for someone who's struggling with negative emotions to get and keep a mental health appointment. Family members and friends can help, notes Whiteside.

"Know that it takes persistence," she says. "You don't stop until you have an appointment for them. That may mean you call 30 people until you find someone who has an availability. You take the day off from work, go with them."

Lezine says he was fortunate to have had that kind of help and support from his college friend when he was struggling.

"One of the things that was helpful ... was she went with me [to my appointment]," he says. "When you're feeling really down and feeling like you don't matter as much, you might not want to take time, or think that it's worth the time, or feel like 'I don't want to go through this.' "

Many people don't make it to their first appointment, or don't follow up, he says. Having a person hold your hand through the process, accompany you to your appointments can prevent that. This can be hard during the pandemic but get creative: Offer to drive there separately and wait nearby for them, or accompany them by video call while they wait.

"It does make a difference, making you feel like you have another person who cares," says Lezine.

9. Explore tools and support online

For those struggling to access mental health care, there are some evidence-based digital tools that can also help.

For example, there's a smartphone app called Virtual Hope Box, which is modeled on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Research shows that veterans who were feeling suicidal and used the app were able to cope better with negative emotions.

Whiteside and her colleagues started a website called Now Matters Now, which offers videos with personal stories of suicide survivors talking about their own struggles and how they have overcome their suicidal thoughts. Stories of survival and coping with suicidal thoughts have been shown to have a positive effect on people at risk of suicide.

The website also has videos that teach some simple skills that are otherwise taught by a therapist trained to offer DBT.

Those skills include mindfulness and paced breathing, which involves breathing with exhales that last longer than the inhales. Whiteside explains that this can calm the nervous system. Similarly, a cold shower or splashing ice water on one's face or making eye contact with someone can distract and/or calm the person who is at immediate risk of taking their own life.

Surveys show that people who visit the website and watch the videos have a short-term reduction in their suicidal thoughts, she says.


This page was originally published in Shots on April 20, 2019. It has been updated and republished.

Meghan Keane produced the Life Kit podcast version of this story.

We'd love to hear from you. Leave the Life Kit team a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at LifeKit@npr.org. For more Life Kit, subscribe to the newsletter.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: Hi there. If you listen to LIFE KIT, chances are you're looking for ways to make life just a little bit better. That is no small task in 2020. Finding small pockets of joy has never been more important. That's why we've done so many episodes that help you do just that. Maybe one of our episodes inspired you to start journaling or camping or biking. Or maybe you started a little garden or found yourself doing more art projects than you used to. Or maybe you just finally perfected your morning coffee, or you've given mindfulness a try.

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RHITU CHATTERJEE, HOST:

Just a heads-up - this episode talks directly about suicide. This is NPR's LIFE KIT. I'm Rhitu Chatterjee. I cover mental health for NPR. And today, we are talking about something that's long been a taboo topic - suicide. In 2018, the most recent year we have data for, more than 40,000 people died by suicide in the United States. And a recent report by the CDC suggests that about 11% of adults are having suicidal thoughts during this pandemic, and that number is higher among 18-to-24-year-olds.

But here's the thing about suicide. Research shows that it's preventable. And a recent national survey showed that Americans know this, and they want to help someone who may be at risk, but they might not know how to help.

DEQUINCY LEZINE: A lot of times, folks feel like suicide prevention is only something that professionals can do.

CHATTERJEE: That's DeQuincy Lezine. He's a psychologist and has struggled with thoughts of suicide himself. And he chairs the Lived Experience division of the American Association of Suicidology. Lezine says, certainly, getting help from a mental health professional is very important, but there's so much each one of us can do before a loved one gets to the point of being in suicidal crisis.

LEZINE: And often, it is that simple stuff of showing that you care and showing up for somebody and being there for them. But there's also a lot of things that people without any type of psych training can do.

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CHATTERJEE: This episode will help you identify the warning signs that someone you know or love may be thinking about dying and how to keep them from going further down that path.

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CHATTERJEE: Let's start with, how can you tell if a loved one might be feeling suicidal? Lezine says, watch out for certain warning signs.

LEZINE: Most obvious is probably just talking about death and talking about suicide, mentioning (ph) it either casually or even if it's jokingly, or specifically talking about it for themselves.

CHATTERJEE: Then there are the less obvious signs, like sudden changes in behavior - for example, if your friend is usually cheerful, and you notice that they've been grumpy lately.

LEZINE: There would be changes in their mood, usually towards greater agitation or greater sadness, increased anger and irritability, changes in substance use - so radically increasing the amount of substance use or beginning to use substances if they hadn't done that before. There are some changes in sleep or eating.

CHATTERJEE: Now, during this pandemic, a lot of people may be experiencing these changes in behavior, sleep patterns, moods, but it doesn't mean that they are all thinking about dying. I spoke with psychologist Ursula Whiteside. She studies suicide prevention at the University of Washington, and she also started a website called Now Matters Now, which features stories of survivors of suicide attempts. Whiteside says those warning signs we talked about, many of them are also signs of other mental illnesses.

URSULA WHITESIDE: A lot of the signs that somebody's having increased risk for suicide are similar to the signs that people are having increased depression symptoms or anxiety symptoms or substance use problems.

CHATTERJEE: However, these mental illnesses do put people at a higher risk of suicide. But it can take a while before someone goes from just being depressed to feeling so hopeless that they don't want to live anymore. And that gives us plenty of opportunities for prevention. The goal is to identify and help people with these mental health problems before they get to a point of crisis. Whiteside says one more warning sign to look out for is when someone withdraws from friends and families and their regular activities, especially virtual ones.

WHITESIDE: Meaning they're not responding to phone calls, or they're not joining in on maybe a Zoom call with family, or they're not on social media. That's one time that it makes sense to get curious about what's going on with your friend - when people start to disappear.

CHATTERJEE: So takeaway No. 1 - identifying the warning signs of suicide, which also overlap with signs of depression, anxiety, substance use problems. That brings us to the next step. What do you do if you detect any of these warning signs? First thing, Whiteside says, is, check in. Ask if they're doing OK, and let them know that you're there for them if they need you. She says if you're unable to talk to them directly, leave a voicemail; write a letter; send a text message. It seems small, but she says it can have a big effect.

WHITESIDE: And a message like that might say something like - you know, refer to a memory they have of them - like, a positive memory - and say that you miss them or say that you're rooting for them.

CHATTERJEE: Also, she says, be prepared to not hear back. But keep checking in, especially if they don't respond, because remember; not responding is a strong sign that they're struggling.

WHITESIDE: When people's lives are really hard, they often fade out, as we talked about. And this is a way to just kind of keep pulling that person back to the reality of your friendship or your family.

CHATTERJEE: Studies suggest that a lack of connectedness is an important risk factor in suicide, especially for young people. Caring messages and check-ins can bring back that sense of connection to loved ones. So takeaway No. 2 is check in with your loved ones, especially if you suspect they're struggling, and be prepared to check in often, even if they don't reply.

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CHATTERJEE: So you've called, sent messages, and your loved one has even responded and confessed to you that they are feeling depressed or overwhelmed and hopeless. How do you know if they're thinking about ending their own life? The best thing to do, experts say, is ask them directly. Now, I know this can be really hard to do. Here's how Whiteside says she would approach it.

WHITESIDE: I might say, you know, a lot of people I know have been having suicidal thoughts during this period, especially when they're going through things similar to what you're going through. And I think it makes sense that some people just, you know, want to not feel this way anymore. Is that something that's going on for you? 'Cause I'd like to see if there are some things I could do to be helpful.

CHATTERJEE: She says, unlike what many people think, asking about suicide does not make it more likely that they will attempt to take their own life. But, Whiteside says, if you broach the topic, don't be judgmental about how they feel.

WHITESIDE: So you're asking 'cause you want to be helpful, not because you're going to call 911.

CHATTERJEE: Now, calling 911 is something you should not do unless someone has already hurt themselves or they're in imminent danger and are unwilling to keep themselves safe. Whiteside says the reason is because hospitals may not even admit them to a psychiatric unit unless they have a plan to act in the next 24 or 48 hours. And calling 911 can take away the person's sense of agency, make them feel scared if the police get involved because calling the police can sometimes escalate things, and it can destroy their trust in both the medical system as well as in you. Also, when talking about suicidal thoughts, Whiteside says, couch it as a common experience because it is. In fact, she says, many more people consider suicide than the number of people who attempt it.

WHITESIDE: So the vast, vast majority of people who have thoughts will not go on to kill themselves, and I think there's a lot of hope in that.

CHATTERJEE: That's takeaway No. 3. If you're worried that a loved one is feeling suicidal, just ask them directly. And remember; suicidal thoughts don't always mean that someone will act on them. But how do you tell if somebody might be in suicidal crisis - as in, they need help right now or very soon? Whiteside says it can be pretty hard to know even if you're in the same room with them because they might not tell you. But there are more subtle signs you can look for.

WHITESIDE: What goes along with it is difficulty thinking clearly. People often use fewer words and have a harder time communicating. They say things like, I can't do this; I'm just so stressed. They might just sit there really quietly for long periods of time, sort of spaced out. When stress gets to a certain level, people act - often act differently.

CHATTERJEE: And if you see that someone you love is going through something like this, and you're really worried they might act on their suicidal thoughts, again, the best thing to do is ask them directly. It's hard to do, but there's a handy set of six questions you can use called the Columbia Protocol. It's developed by researchers at Columbia University, and you can find it with a quick Google search. It can help you figure out if someone is at low or high risk of attempting suicide.

The protocol has questions like, have you wished you were dead or wish you would go to sleep and not wake up? And have you had any intention of acting on these thoughts? Someone who answers yes is at high risk, in which case you may need to act fast. But for a lot of people who have fleeting suicidal thoughts, the urge to act on them can come very suddenly. Ursula Whiteside has interviewed several survivors of suicide attempts.

WHITESIDE: What they said was that, you know something really bad happened - a fight with a partner, like, a loss of a relationship, a loss of a job. And this overwhelming urge to end their life and end their pain came over them.

CHATTERJEE: But the good news here is that these intense feelings are also fleeting. They last anywhere between a few hours to a maximum of one to two days. Your job during this time is to help your loved one calm down and not act on their feelings.

WHITESIDE: Here's a stop, drop, and roll for when you're on fire emotionally.

CHATTERJEE: Whiteside says the first step is to put out that emotional fire.

WHITESIDE: You're at, like, a 90 out of a hundred when you're in that overwhelming state. You're trying to bring this down to a level where you can think clearly again.

CHATTERJEE: She says the quickest way to do that is to ask the person to use ice or cold water.

WHITESIDE: Using, like, a cold shower on your face or putting your face in ice water or even using an ice pack and doing this on repeat.

CHATTERJEE: She says cold changes our physiology, calms us down, and it's a quick way to reset our emotions. If you're in the same room with your loved one, go get them an ice pack, and put it on their face and neck. If you're talking to them on the phone or on a video call, just offer to do it with them. Go to your fridge. Get an ice pack, and apply it to your face while they do the same thing. It'll make it more likely that they will do it with you. The next thing, Whiteside says, is to remind them that these intense suicidal thoughts are fleeting. So the second step, she says...

WHITESIDE: ...Is to make no important decisions, especially deciding to die - so not panicking; ignoring thoughts that you don't care if you die; stop using drugs and alcohol, and wait.

CHATTERJEE: And the third step, she says, is make eye contact with them.

WHITESIDE: That's a difficult but powerful pain reliever. It's like, when you look in someone's eyes, you know, there's not much else that grabs our attention like looking in someone's eyes. It can drag you out of your, like, deepest almost edge of sleep when you're sitting in a classroom and the teacher looks into your eyes. Like, it'll just jolt you awake. But also it can be used to drag yourself out of a negative brain space.

CHATTERJEE: And be prepared to stick around with your loved one until the crisis has passed. That's our takeaway No. 4. If your loved one is in suicidal crisis, remember, these intense urges are fleeting. So help them wait it out, and help them calm down using Whiteside's stop, drop and roll exercise. But even after the intense suicidal thoughts have passed, your loved one will need your help and support to start to find their way out of their despair. The first time Lezine had his most intense suicidal thoughts, he told his close friends how he was feeling, and most of them told him...

LEZINE: You know, I love you, and I totally want you to stay around. I want you to be here. I think that you have a lot that's possible to live for. And a lot of people, friends, mentioned the things that they particularly valued about me and saw as potential for the future.

CHATTERJEE: He says he'd been feeling so hopeless that he couldn't envision a future for himself, but his friends' love and faith in him changed that.

LEZINE: Having those more-specific examples of feeling valued, feeling meaningful and then also having specific things to look forward to in the future, which is often very difficult to perceive when you're in that type of suicidal despair. Having those things kind of brought into the conversation by friends was very helpful.

CHATTERJEE: It was helpful, but he still needed treatment for his depression. He was so down in the dumps, though, that he couldn't seek mental health care to make that effort to find a therapist, make an appointment, take that first step to go pour his heart out to a stranger. It all felt too difficult and scary.

LEZINE: So if you're already feeling low and then you feel like you're going to be putting yourself into this social situation where people are going to think even less of you, it's a really kind of fear-inducing, anxiety-producing type of situation.

CHATTERJEE: What helped him get treatment, he says, was the support and help from his best friend, Mary Alice. She was so worried about him that she first made an appointment with a therapist for herself to get advice on how to help him. Then she made an appointment for Lezine and even went with him for that first meeting.

LEZINE: And she went with me up to do the intake and do their first session. So I did the first session with just me and the counselor, but she was waiting out in the waiting area for me.

CHATTERJEE: And that, he says, was invaluable. That's takeaway No. 5. If you found out your loved one is depressed or anxious and has lost their will to live, be prepared to take those extra steps to help them find treatment and make sure they stick to their treatment.

Now, I should add the obvious - none of this is easy. The work can be daunting and exhausting. So be open to seeking help yourself along the way. And if you're overwhelmed and don't know what to do next, you can call or text the Suicide Prevention Hotline, which is 1-800-273-8255. You can talk to a trained professional for advice on what to do next or just get some emotional support. And of course, it's a number you should also give your loved one who's struggling so they know they can call it any time, especially when they don't have a loved one to talk to right away.

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CHATTERJEE: Suicide is preventable. It might take a while, and it often requires patience and a lot of hard work. But research suggests it's possible to help people find their way out of despair and hopelessness.

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LEZINE: And a lot of times folks feel like they need to be able to say the right thing or do the right thing, and often it is that simple stuff of showing that you care and showing up for somebody and being there for them, making eye contact and just being around to listen actively and to, you know, show that they are valuable enough for your time.

CHATTERJEE: To summarize our big takeaways - No. 1, identify the warning signs. They can be obvious, like talking about dying, or less obvious ones, like sudden changes in someone's behavior or mood. No. 2 - check in with your loved ones, especially if you've identified any of the warning signs. And don't stop checking in just because you don't hear back from them.

Takeaway No. 3 - if you're worried someone you know is considering suicide, be direct. Ask if they have thoughts of dying. Asking someone will not increase their risk of suicide. In fact, it opens up a conversation and can help them get the support that they need. Takeaway No. 4 - if your loved one is in immediate suicidal crisis, remember, these intense urges are fleeting. So help them calm down and wait it out. Use Ursula Whiteside's stop, drop and roll to get through the crisis. No. 5 - if your loved one is struggling with despair and thoughts of death, help them find mental health care and be prepared to accompany them to their appointments.

And once more, if you or someone you know is in despair and having thoughts of dying, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, which is 1-800-273-8255.

For more LIFE KIT, check out our other episodes. We've got episodes about managing anxiety and mindfulness. You can find those at npr.org/lifekit. And if you love LIFE KIT and want more, subscribe to our newsletter, npr.org/lifekitnewsletter. If you've got a good tip, leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823 or email us a voice memo at lifekit@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Meghan Keane. She's the managing producer. Beth Donovan is the senior editor. Our digital editors are Beck Harlan and Clare Lombardo. And our editorial assistant is Clare Marie Schneider. I'm Rhitu Chatterjee. Thanks for listening.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.