I have experience with those who have thoughts of suicide, and I’m guessing you do too. During September’s National Suicide Prevention Week, I pledged to start and end my show each day with a one-sentence tip YOU can use to make a difference today. Each tip is one you’ve never heard before.


#1  Use a person’s first name.

It helps them to not feel invisible, and that is what they feel every day – INVISIBLE.

A “hello” with eye contact seems like it would make them feel visible, but it doesn’t. Use their first name.



#2  Ask the question, “Are you wanting to hurt yourself or take your own life?”

They want you to ask the question.

People who answer “no” will not think you’re weird for asking it. They will just say, “No,” and you’ll move on. They’ll be glad you’re checking on them.

People who answer “yes” (or some form of yes that moves the conversation forward) will NOT see you as being intrusive. You will NOT be making the other person uncomfortable. The person will be cheering inside that you asked. They’ll be thinking, “Finally, someone who cares! Finally, someone has the courage to ask a question that most people feel awkward asking!”

Then, be a good listener. You should also refer them to a professional and to the free hotline:

1-800-273-8255  (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)

1-888-628-9454 (Spanish)   1-800-799-4889 (Deaf & Hard of Hearing)


#3   A giveaway for severe depression–better than sadness–is “loss of interest in things you used to have interest in.”

You know your friends and family (and yourself–it can be used for self-evaluation too).

Look for loss of interest in things they were always well known to have interest in.

Remember–it won’t be awkward when you speak up. They’re hoping, begging for someone to notice and ask them.



#4  Don’t promise to keep it a secret.

When someone tells you something about their struggle, don’t promise to keep it a secret. They don’t want you to!

It may seem like they do, but they really don’t want you to keep it a secret. They’ll be extremely disappointed if you do.

They know strong people when they see them. They’ll think of you as a rare person of strength if you DON’T keep it a secret. If you DO keep it secret, they’ll see you as somewhat caring, but as weak as all the others.

You see, people who struggle with thoughts of taking their own life are not weak, and people who take their own lives are not weak. Every day that they didn’t take their own life was like a day climbing Mt. Everest with no gear to them. They are extremely strong and used that strength to get through climbing Mt. Everest every day for a long time. They know weakness and strength when they see it. Let them see that you are one of the rare STRONG people.



#5  Make a demonstration call to the free suicide lifeline on speaker and have the person who is struggling just listen.

You do all the talking. It’s merely to demonstrate that it works, that you get a real person who cares, and that it’s easy.

You say, “Hello, is this the suicide lifeline? I’m just checking to see how it works, if I get a live person, and if it’s easy. Is this the point where I would share with you my thoughts about hurting myself or taking my own life? I’m with a friend, and though we’re not in distress right now, we just wanted to try it to check it out. Thanks for your time.”

After a demonstration like this, people who are struggling will be familiar with the lifeline and more likely to give it try.

Save this number in your contacts on your phone, and on the phones of anyone struggling (that way it’ll be there fast when it’s needed):

1-800-273-8255  (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)





There is an important distinction between self-harm and suicide.

Self-harm is often used as a way of coping with life. People struggling with suicidal thoughts, on the other hand, don’t see themselves as having an escape from their pain other than ending their lives.



*The sign you see in my photo was made by Golden Gate Bridge worker Ken Hopper. He put it up so joggers would have something to high five at their turn-around point under the bridge (rather than just hit the chain link fence). Because of his last name, people often think it refers to people “hopping” (jumping) off the bridge. Ken didn’t mean for people to take it that way, but understands why they do. You see, during his many years on the job, he talked over 100 people down from jumping.


Please feel free to reach out to me for any reason:

– Chris

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