If You’re Having Suicidal Thoughts

For Friends and Family

For Survivors of Suicide Loss

For Survivors of Suicide Attempts

For Mental Health Professionals

For More Information about Suicide and its Prevention


For Immediate Help with Suicidal Thoughts

Resources for Suicide Prevention

If you are in danger of acting on suicidal thoughts or are in any other life-threatening crisis, please call emergency services in your area (9-1-1 in the U.S.) or go to your nearest hospital emergency room. 

Hotlines in the U.S.

All hotlines listed below are free and confidential.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

800-273-TALK (8255)  

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day, every day. Services are also available for veterans, and for Spanish speakers.

Samaritans Helpline

877-870-4673 (HOPE) Call or text

Samaritans Helpline is available 24/7.

The Trevor Project 

866-488-7386 – a hotline for LGBT youth

Trans Lifeline

U.S.: (877) 565-8860 

Canada: (877) 330-6366

Designed for transgender people, the Trans Lifeline is staffed by people who are themselves transgender.


(800) 267-5463

Set up for police officers, staffed by retired police officers who volunteer their time, this hotline provides crisis intervention 24/7.

International Hotlines

The above hotlines are based in the U.S. You can find a list of international suicide hotlines here. It is maintained by the International Association for Suicide Prevention.


Crisis Text Line – 741741 (U.S.); 686868 (Canada); 85258 (UK)

According to Crisis Text Line’s web site, “Every texter is connected with a Crisis Counselor, a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving. All of Crisis Text Line’s Crisis Counselors are volunteers, donating their time to helping people in crisis.”

Online Chat and Email

E-mail Samaritans

Note that the Samaritans international website states that people who send an email typically receive a response within 12 hours. The site also notes that names are immediately removed from emails, and emails are deleted after 30 days.

Lifeline Crisis Chat

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also has chat available, 24 hours a day. To use the service, go to

Chronic Suicide Support Forum

This site offers an opportunity for nonjudgmental, supportive discussion about chronic suicidal thoughts, with others who have experienced them as well. It is part of the site

International Suicide Prevention Wiki

This site contains lists with dozens of sites, in addition to the sites above, where a suicidal individual can discuss their problems via instant messaging, chat rooms, email, text, and online support groups. The site is ideal for someone who does not want to talk with someone on the phone about their suicidal thoughts. It offers healthy options for receiving help. (I say “healthy,” because unfortunately danger lurks on many Internet sites, where “pro-suicide” folks actually encourage suicide.)

Trevor Project Lifeline Chat

The Trevor Project, which reaches out to LGBT youth, provides instant-messaging chat on Mondays and Fridays, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern standard time.

Other Online Resources

Coping with Suicidal Thoughts

This online handbook provides information and food for thought for suicidal individuals, with material addressing what to do when suicidal, how to make sense of suicidal thoughts, and ways to decrease suicidal thoughts and prevent more suicidal episodes. (Sponsored by Simon Fraser University in Canada.)

Healthline’s Suicide Prevention Resource Guide

This guide contains resources and information.

Overcoming Suicidal Pain

This site was created by Douglas Bloch, the author of books such as Healing from Depression: 12 Weeks to a Better Mood and When Going Through Hell… Don’t Stop!

Stories of Hope and Recovery

This site, a project of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, contains personal accounts of people who have seriously considered suicide or attempted suicide. The people come from all walks of life – gay and straight, military and not, teen and adult, and so on – and though their suffering has been great, their survival is inspiring.

Talking about Suicide

This website contains a wealth of information for people who think about dying by suicide or who have made an attempt or had such thoughts in the past. The Resources page is rather exhaustive, and I highly recommend it. It provides a list not only of crisis hotlines, but also of various creative projects aimed at spreading information about the suicidal experience. 

For Friends and Family

Friends and family of suicidal person

Helping the Suicidal

This page by the Samaritans provides advice on how to help someone you care about who may be considering suicide. 

Information and Support After a Suicide Attempt

This booklet by the VA is geared toward family members of veterans who survived a suicide attempt, but the information largely is applicable to all attempt survivors and their families. The guide contains good advice on talking with children about a suicide attempt of a family member, separated by age groups: 4-8 year olds; 9-13 year olds;  14-18 year olds.

Warning Signs for Suicide Risk

Verbal signs, physical changes, new behaviors, and triggering events linked to suicide are described here. (Sponsored by the Samaritans.)

For Survivors of Suicide Loss

Survivors of Suicide

After a Suicide: A Practical and Personal Guide for Survivors

This booklet begins with information about the practical logistics immediately following a suicide, including details about a possible autopsy, cleaning of the home if the suicide occurred there, organ donation – and more. The second part of this booklet addresses the emotional aftermath of suicide bereavement, including common reactions to the suicide of a loved one, as well as the process of grieving. 

Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors

This site contains abundant information about the experience of losing a loved one to suicide. It includes a blog, recommended books, memorials for people who died by suicide, and a community forum. The site states, “In our forum, survivors can contact others with similar losses, share their stories and discuss the many facets of healing from loss by suicide. It operates like a 24/7 support group, with a team of trained moderators and a mental health clinician who contributes regularly.” 

Grief After Suicide

This blog for survivors of suicide loss is authored by Franklin Cook. His father died by suicide almost 30 years ago, and since then he has served as a voice for suicide loss survivors in numerous national roles. A highlight of his blog is the Survivor Outlook section, which features first-person accounts of other suicide loss survivors. The Grief After Suicide blog also contains numerous other resources, including lists of suicide loss survivor websites, support groups, online discussion forums and chat rooms.

SOLOS: Spouse-Partner Loss Group

This Facebook group describes itself as “a suicide grief support group for spouses-partners who have been through loss of a husband/wife, fiance, boyfriend/girlfriend, or life partner to suicide.” (SOLOS stands for Survivors of Loved Ones to Suicide.)

SOS: A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide 

Of all the online guides to surviving the suicide of a loved one, this may be the most comprehensive. Written by a man whose wife died by suicide, the guide includes information on the “emotional rollercoaster” that follows a suicide, myths and facts about suicide, suggestions for coping, narratives from other survivors, and inspirational words for surviving, coping, and healing after the loss of a loved one to suicide. (Sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology.)

Lists of Support Groups for Suicide Loss Survivors

This site, sponsored by the American Association for Suicidology, and this site, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, both provide directories for support groups nationwide for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. Some support groups are led by a mental health professional, while others are led by participants themselves.

Healing Conversations: Personal Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention trains people who have survived a suicide loss to reach out to others newly bereaved by suicide. The volunteers will visit new survivors and offer peer support, at the survivor’s request. Click here to request an in-person or remote visit.

For Survivors of Suicide Attempts

Image courtesy of (Photographer Sira Anamwong)

Image courtesy of (Photographer Sira Anamwong)

After an Attempt: A Guide for Taking Care of Yourself After Treatment in an Emergency Department 

“Today may feel like the hardest day of your life,” this brochure states. It directs information to someone who very recently attempted suicide and is now leaving the emergency room, but in fact much of what it states about the recovery process, safety planning, and coping applies to anyone who has attempted suicide or still considers it. (The brochure was developed by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.)

Live Through This

This site contains a rich collection of personal narratives by people who have survived a suicide attempt. The site’s creator, Dese’Rae Stage, has traveled the U.S. photographing and interviewing people who have been suicidal and lived to tell about it. As the site states, “Live Through This is the first known project of its kind, and the most extensive catalog in existence of stories told by suicide attempt survivors, for suicide attempt survivors. Its mission is to change public attitudes about suicide for the better; to reduce prejudice and discrimination against attempt survivors; to provide comfort to those experiencing suicidal thoughts by letting them know that they’re not alone and tomorrow is possible; to give insight to those who have trouble understanding suicidal thoughts and actions, and catharsis to those who have lost a loved one; and to be used as a teaching tool for clinicians in training, or anyone else who might benefit from a deeper understanding of first-person experiences with suicide.”

Talking about Suicide 

The creator and author of this blog, Cara Anna, is herself a suicide attempt survivor. The highlights of this site are its Resources page, with a list of resources and projects dedicated to suicide attempt survivors, and its page of interviews with attempt survivors. She conducted more than 50 such interviews, and each has its own gems. (This site is still online, but it is no longer updated.)


For Mental Health Professionals

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels

There is a wealth of information available – too much to list here – for mental health professionals who want to learn more about risk assessment, intervention,  psychotherapy, and legal risk management with individuals at risk for suicide. Here I provide a brief list of key books:

Cognitive Therapy for Suicidal Patients: Scientific and Clinical Applications

By A. Wenzel, PhD, G.K. Brown, PhD, & A.T. Beck, MD

Cognitive therapy (also called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT) is one of only a few treatments that has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing suicide risk and attempts. This book describes in specific detail the cognitive therapy techniques that have helped reduced suicide attempts.

Helping the Suicidal Person: Tips and Techniques for Professionals

By Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW

My book contains 89 tips, on average 3-4 pages each, about how to help someone who has suicidal thoughts. Topics include overcoming the taboo, assessing danger, attending to immediate safety, alleviating psychological pain, exploring motivations and misgivings, moving forward after a suicide attempt, inspiring hope, and more. You can see a full list of the tips at my site, Helping the Suicidal Person. I wrote the book for clinicians, but quite a few people who aren’t helping professionals have told me it was helpful to them, too. If you purchase the book from the publisher’s site, use the discount code SS225 to receive a discount (25% these days, but it varies) and free shipping.

The Practical Art of Suicide Assessment: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals and Substance Use Counselors

By Shawn C. Shea, MD

This book should be required reading not only for students, but also for mental health professionals at all levels of experience. As I explain in a separate post, it describes techniques to help assess a person’s suicidal thoughts and intent. It also provides extensive information, in a highly readable, non-academic style, about suicide, its stigma, and its possible causes, while also delving into the specifics of suicide risk documentation and decision making.

Preventing Patient Suicide: Clinical Assessment and Management

By R.I. Simon, MD

The author may well be the foremost authority on the legal aspects of psychotherapy with suicidal clients, in particular the risk for malpractice lawsuits following a client’s suicide. He provides good, sound advice in this book for managing suicide risk and providing competent care. He states his positions forthrightly; in fact, he approaches sacrilege when criticizing commonly held notions in suicide risk assessment. For example, he asserts that suicide risk assessment forms encourage clinical lassitude and increase malpractice risk. And he argues that clinicians are practicing unethically when they do not provide after-hours coverage for emergencies and instead refer a patient to call 911 or go to an emergency room in the event of an emergency. All the while, he bases his arguments on prior legal cases and case histories. 

Suicide as Psychache

By Edwin Shneidman, PhD

In this book, the author (considered the “grandfather” of modern suicidology) focuses on psychological pain as the cause of suicide. Of course, this seems obvious, but in reality, much of the literature about suicide over the last few decades has focused on biological, sociological, and psychiatric risk factors for suicide, looking at statistics instead of individuals’ personal accounts of their pain. Shneidman elucidates this pain intensely, and argues that the only way to really prevent a person’s suicide is to fundamentally understand that person’s pain and to help reduce it.

Treating Suicidal Behavior: An Effective, Time-Limited Approach

 By M. David Rudd, PhD, Thomas Joiner, PhD, and M. Hasan Rajab, PhD

Cognitive behavioral therapy has demonstrated effectiveness at treating depression and suicidality. This book describes, in extensive detail, one CBT approach to helping suicidal clients. Topics go beyond the standard fare of theory, risk factors, and risk assessment. The material has immediate relevance to clinical practice, with information on crisis intervention, symptom management, cognitive restructuring (the book titles this section “Changing the suicidal belief system and building a philosophy for living”), and skills training.

Why People Die by Suicide

By Thomas Joiner, PhD

This book by a renowned suicidologist, whose father died by suicide, describes the author’s prominent theory of suicide causation, the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide. Joiner provides evidence that key characteristics must co-exist for a person to die by suicide: 1) They perceive that they are a burden to their loved ones; 2) They experience, or perceive they experience, extreme alienation; and 3) They have become habituated in some way to physical pain or life-threatening situations, making suicide seem less frightening and formidable to them. The first two factors combine to create a desire for death, and the habituation to pain or danger enables the ability to die by suicide.

For More Information about Suicide and its Prevention

American Association for Suicidology

The AAS website contains material of interest to everyone on the suicide-related spectrum: professionals, survivors, crisis workers, employers, friends and loved ones, and suicidal people themselves. Geared more toward research and statistics than some sites, it still has material accessible to everyone. Especially valuable is the information on postvention (what to do after a suicide), suicide loss survivor groups, and warning signs for suicide.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Like the AAS site (above), this site offers information for everyone affected, in any way, by suicide. It also has much information about research findings, and contains a rich section on advocacy efforts and opportunities in the field of suicide prevention.

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)

At the SAVE site, you can find an array of information for both professionals and the lay public, including a depression symptom checklist, online resources, reading lists, and more. 

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

This is the go-to site for all sorts of information on suicide and its prevention. Especially useful to practitioners is its Best Practices Registry, which provides a list and descriptions of evidence-based practices in suicide prevention and intervention.

The Trevor Project

This site offers information geared toward suicide prevention in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Educators, parents, mental health professionals, and youth themselves can find meaningful help here. In particular, the site offers extensive resources to youth; see the section above, “For Immediate Help with Suicidal Thoughts.”

Understand Suicide

Created and maintained by Brazilian psychoanalyst Paula Fontenelle, this site contains a plethora of information for anybody who wants to learn more about suicide. There are resources, information about suicide, a podcast, and more. Fontenelle lost her father to suicide in 2005, and she has dedicated her life to helping others touched by suicidality or suicide loss ever since. She also authored the book Understanding Suicide: Living with Loss. Paths to Prevention.