Although some attempted or completed suicides come as a shock even to family members and friends, many individuals give clear warnings.
Any suicide threat or suicide attempt must be taken seriously. If it is ignored, a life may be lost.
If an individual is imminently threatening or has already attempted suicide, the police should be contacted immediately so that emergency services can arrive as soon as possible.
Until help arrives, the individual should be spoken to in a calm, supportive manner.
A medical professional may hospitalise individuals who have threatened or attempted suicide.
Many countries have enacted legislation to allow a medical professional to hospitalise individuals against their wishes if the medical professional believes that they are at high risk of harming themselves or other people.
Individuals threatening suicide are in crisis.
Worldwide there are a range of organisations that provide crisis intervention for such individual. Suicide prevention centres are staffed by specially trained volunteers.
When potentially suicidal individuals call an organisation, a volunteer will (typically) do the following:
- Seeks to establish a relationship with the individual, reminding them of their identity (for example, by using their name repeatedly).
- May offer constructive help for the problem that brought on the crisis and encourage them to take positive action to resolve it.
- May try to facilitate emergency face-to-face professional help for them.
Sometimes individuals call a hotline to say that they have already committed a suicidal act (for example, taken a drug overdose or turned on the gas) or are in the process of doing so.
In such cases, the volunteer tries to obtain their address. If that is not possible, another volunteer contacts the police to trace the call and attempt a rescue.
If possible, individuals are kept talking on the telephone until the emergencies services arrive.