If some one you know is thinking about suicide, there is help for him.

Someone you know - an acquaintance, a friend, or a colleague - may have revealed (or you may think) that he is having thoughts about suicide.  Talking with the individual and getting immediate help is the most effective way to save his life.

The Needham Suicide Prevention Coalitions encourages Acknowledge, Care and Tell, A.C.T., approach to helping others.  Below are some signs of possible suicidality in adults and suggestions about how to use the A.C.T. approach.

Signs of Possible Suicidal Risk
  • Threatening to or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities—seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped-like there’s no way out
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Feeling anxious, agitated or being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life

Acknowledge, Care, and Tell

Talking with someone about your concern involves addressing a major stigma about mental illness that exists today in our community.  The Needham Suicide Prevention Coalition is a group of community members committed to preventing suicide and reducing the stigma of mental illness. If you think you may need some help talking with someone you are concerned about get some advice and support. Call the Riverside Mental Health Center’s Emergency Line 781 769 8674, your medical provider, clergy,  the Samaritans 877 870 HOPE,  or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800 273 8255, and explain your concerns and ask for some support in your efforts to help out. Below are guidelines endorsed by the Needham Suicide Preventions Coalition.


Speak directly and tell the individual that you are concern that he may be thinking about hurting or killing himself, (70% of individuals with suicidal intent give some warning signs). For example, you could say the following:

  • “This is hard to say, but I think Jim that you may be/are considering ending your life and I am very worried.”

Clearly and without judgment, state the behaviors that give you this concern. For example,

  • “ You have made many comments about how hopeless you feel and you have withdrawn from all of your friends.”

Ask directly if this individual is thinking of hurting or killing himself and what is his plan. For example,

  • “ I want to know if you have been thinking about ending your life or hurting yourself. Do you have a plan? What is the plan?”

You can not make anyone more suicidal by talking with him, you can only reduce his isolation and bring hope and help.

  • Let the person know that you care and you want to get them help.
  • Tell him that you do not want him to be alone with these thoughts and feelings.
  • Reassure him that he can and will feel better no matter how he feels now. Give a real sense of hope. Tell him that suicidal thoughts can seem very strong but are temporary and will remit in time with help and treatment.
  • Stay with him or find a responsible adult to stay with him until emergency help is secured. Reassure him that he is not alone.


    • If the individual is willing to get help; tell him that you are calling Riverside’s Emergency Service , 781 769 8674 or 800 529 5077,  for help for suicidal thoughts and feelings.  The emergency clinician will talk with him and work out a plan to get help, most likely to go to a nearby emergency room where he will be seen by an emergency service provider. Make sure someone accompanies him to get help.
    • If the individual is unwilling to get help; attempt to have someone stay with him and call the Riverside Emergency Services 781 769 8674 or 800 529 5077. Explain the situation to the emergency clinician who can determine whether this individual should be evaluated against his will. The emergency clinician can have a section 12 order issued which mandates that the town’s emergency service bring this individual to an emergency room to be evaluated.  Discuss with the emergency service provider the best way for you to manage the situation until the town’s emergency service arrives.

    Keep in Mind:

    • It is not your responsibility to determine whether an individual is at risk and what to do, but only to let someone with knowledge and training know the specifics about your concerns.
    • The thinking of an individual who is at risk of suicide is often significantly distorted and irrational given the profound nature of his distress. Consequently he may not be making good, safe judgments about his wellbeing.



Hurting yourself is NEVER
the right answer.
There are people who can help.

For immediate help call
911 or

Riverside Emergency Services

Newton Wellesley Hospital

To talk with someone call
Samariteen Hotline
1-800-252-TEEN (8336)

Samaritan Helpline
1-877-870-HOPE (4673)

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

Support and Help Around You