Serving Others: Help With Suicidal Thoughts


September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and there are many more who attempt suicide. For every suicide, there are 25 attempts.

The most common situation that leads to suicide is depression. Depression can result from various causes, such as hormonal imbalance, chemical imbalances, drug or alcohol abuse, bullying, damaged self-esteem, and many more. Be aware that taking certain prescription pills can lead to depression. Although anti-depressants and anti-psychotics can help with depression, they can also increase the risk of suicidal thoughts.

You may offer to help someone with suicidal thoughts who is your close friend or family member and is truly struggling. People contemplating suicide may not recognize the signs and struggles that can be helped. We encourage you to recognize those symptoms in your loved ones. Be aware of what warning signs may come from their behavior. The risk of suicide can be “reduced when family, friends, ward members, and mental health professionals come together to help those who are struggling.”

The LDS Church published a Preventing Suicide website on September 10, 2016. The website gives information and tips to help people deal and cope with suicidal thoughts.

how-to-help-someone-with-suicidal-thoughts_be-awareBe Aware of the Symptoms of Suicidal Thoughts

People with suicidal thoughts may not notice gradual changes of mood or lifestyle, but those around them may identify changes. Watch for signs related to suicidal thoughts. One sign may not mean anything, but multiple signs might. There may be a sudden change in behavioral attitude or mood resulting in thoughts of committing suicide.

There are multiple signs to watch for. Excessive sadness, depression, hopelessness, withdrawal, abusing drugs, and suffering a major loss are some of the most common, along with other symptoms.   People suffering from depression may eventually believe that resorting to suicide will help them escape physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain.

As stated in Understanding Suicide, “One of these signs by itself may not necessarily mean something serious, but it could—especially if you sense a sudden change in your friend or start seeing other signs.”

People dealing with depression often lose desire to do the things they normally do. Andrew Solomon said “The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality.” Depression leads to people wanting to do absolutely nothing because they have lost interest.

There are three things people often tend to confuse: depression, grief, and sadness. Grief is explicitly active. If you have a loss and you feel incredibly unhappy and then six months later you’re still deeply sad but you’re functioning a little better. It’s probably grief and it will probably ultimately resolve itself in some measure. If you experience a catastrophic loss and you feel terrible and think six months later you can barely function at all, then it’s probably a depression that was triggered by the catastrophic circumstances.

Andrew Solomon
The Struggle of Mental Health

how-to-help-someone-with-suicidal-thoughts_seek-help-immediatelySeek Help Immediately

In order to support and help someone with suicidal thoughts, involve yourself in their life, constantly showing your love. Express your love for them and show that you care for their well-being. They need people that they can talk to without fear of feeling ashamed or embarrassed. So many people have been in this situation and have overcome their trials with help from friends, family, and Heavenly Father. Let them know they are not alone.

List several people (with phone numbers) you can talk to and who would be willing and available to help you through the rest of your safety plan during a crisis.

Choosing to Live: Overcoming Suicidal Thoughts
Ensign or Liahona, Sept 2016

Once you’ve noticed someone contemplating suicide, seek help immediately. “You can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.” Ask your parents, trusted adults, bishops, or ward leaders for advice. They may be able to give knowledgable advice on how to comfort and help your loved ones.

If your loved one is having suicidal thoughts, offer to help them create a safety plan or help them talk to their family, their bishop, or a professional who can help. You can’t do this alone, and you should not be their only support. If they are uncomfortable talking to someone they know, encourage them to contact a suicide helpline.

Preventing Suicide

Don’t hesitate to ask for help for someone even if it may seem difficult. You may encounter a situation wherein to help someone with suicidal thoughts, you must be loyal to their life first and their secrets second. However, their life is on the line. Would you rather lose a friend for being loyal or help save their life and have them be upset for a small time period?

If someone has already tried to commit suicide, don’t leave the alone. Seeking help may mean having to watch and monitor your loved one to keep them from attempting suicide again.

Another way you can help a friend who is thinking about attempting suicide is to seek medical help. Don’t try to do this alone. Contact a trained professional as quickly as possible because “The person may need to be hospitalized until the suicidal crisis has passed.”

Because of the toxins rampant in our modern environment, many people, even young people suffer from hormone imbalances as a result. One clinic reported seeing many young men, barely out of their teens, who had essentially dropped out of life — out of school, out of work, out of sports, out of everything. These are typical symptoms of depression, yet the cause was very low testosterone. Women who are depressed may lack progesterone. A hormone check should be part of medical care for the depressed.

how-to-help-someone-with-suicidal-thoughts_prayPray for Those Needing Help with Suicidal Thoughts

Lift up your soul in prayer and explain to your Heavenly Father what you are feeling. Acknowledge your shortcomings. Pour out your heart and express your gratitude. Let Him know of the trials you are facing. Plead with Him in Christ’s name for strength and support. Ask that your ears may be opened, that you may hear His voice. Ask that your eyes may be opened, that you may see His light.

The Hopes of God’s Light
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

Pray for those battling with depression and suicidal thoughts. If you know of people who struggle to pray, pray for them. Ask Heavenly Father that they may be blessed with comfort and guidance through this time of need.

Open your hearts to Heavenly Father and ask him guidance on how to help a friend. Listen and pay attention to the promptings you get.


After mighty prayer and seeking to apply the Savior’s Atonement in my life, the Lord removed my feelings of guilt rapidly, distinctly, and tangibly. His voice explained that I didn’t have to carry guilt because my depression wasn’t my fault. Jesus Christ carries that burden for me through the power of His Atonement. I was filled with light and felt hopeful again.

Choosing to Live: Overcoming Suicidal Thoughts

how-to-help-someone-with-suicidal-thoughts_go-do-somethingTake Action

People with depression and suicidal thoughts tend to isolate themselves. They prefer to be home alone than be out with their friends and family.

Help your friend get out. Include your friend in Church activities and service opportunities. Be direct, but don’t take it personally if your friend doesn’t respond. Interacting with others lessens feelings of isolation and depression, but it can be a difficult step for people to take.

Dealing with Depression
Eric B. Murdock

Performing service for others may help someone with suicidal thoughts to have more vitality. They will be more focused on helping others than on their feelings. They will also witness how happy they make others feel with their service and help.

If they decline your invitation, continue to invite them. Let them know that you care. You can invite them to do activities as simple as going on a hike or walk, listening to music, or visiting another close friend.

Lastly, if you are having a difficult time getting them out of the house, think about getting them a pet. Pets offer unconditional love and acceptance. They are a good company for those coping with suicidal thoughts.

There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power.

Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease
Elder David A. Bednar
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Ministering to Latter-day Saints with Mental Disorders

Nic is currently majoring in multimedia journalism at BYU. She is also writing for The Daily Universe at BYU. Nic became a member of the LDS Church in January of 2015. Her hobbies are tennis, baking, fishing, doing puzzles, and photography.