Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge CenterSuicide Warning Signs: How to Start a Conversation

Suicide Warning Signs: What Do I Say?

Talking to someone about suicide can feel awkward and uncomfortable. But, if you have concerns, breaking through your own discomfort could save a life. Showing your concern and directly asking about suicidal thoughts can be vital first steps in helping someone get the support they need.

How to Start a Conversation

Be sensitive to the need for privacy. Approach and talk in a private setting.

Be yourself. Use honest and non-judgmental language to start a conversation. Tell the person what you’ve noticed. Use words that you feel comfortable with and that make sense given the situation and your relationship.

Be direct. Ask if they’re having suicidal thoughts. Give them a chance to talk. You should not act as a counselor or give advice, but let them know you are listening. Remember that it’s not your job to fix the situation.

Show your concern and support. Acknowledge the despair they’re feeling. Don’t try to minimize their pain. Let the person know you care and that they are valued. Be kind, even if you feel angry about what they’re considering.

Be aware that you may have to break confidentiality. Try to avoid promising to keep what they tell you to yourself, but do promise if it’s the key to being allowed to help. You may need to break that promise to keep the person safe.

Help connect them with professional help, even if they resist. A person who has reached a point where suicide is an option often does not believe they can be helped.

Phrase to Start a Conversation

  • “I feel like you haven’t been yourself lately. I am concerned about you. Can we talk?”
  • “I want to respect your privacy, but I’m worried about you.”
  • “I know you’ve been having a tough time recently. Can you share what has been going on?”
  • “I really care about you and I can tell something is wrong. Can you tell me how I can help?”

Phrases to Aid in Conversation

  • “How long have you felt like this?”
  • “Have you been feeling hopeless?”
  • “How are you coping with what has been going on in your life?”
  • “You are not alone with this. I’m here for you.”
  • “I may not know exactly how you feel, but you matter to me and I want to help.”
  • “Can you think of anything I could do to help you?”
  • “I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you won’t always feel like this. Things will change.”
  • “Have you thought about getting help?”
  • “I want to call someone to help us.”

Questions to Ask

  • “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?”
  • “Are you having thoughts about suicide?”

Phrases to Avoid

  • “You don’t really want to do that.”
  • “It can’t be that bad.”
  • “You have so much to live for.”
  • “You can’t do that to your family.”

How to Help

If you become aware that someone is prepared to act on their suicidal thoughts, you should take immediate action.

Your goal is to keep the individual safe and make a connection to others who can help.

Stay with them

Do not leave them alone, even for a brief time.

Obtain help

Think of this as a medical emergency. You can:

  • Call 911.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at .
  • If your company offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), contact them and connect with a crisis counselor.
  • At work, alert a manager, security, or other appropriate person.
  • If it is a friend or relative, options might include calling their doctor or taking them to an Emergency Room (ER), if the person can be transported safely.

Safety first

As much as you want to keep the individual safe, never put yourself or others in danger. If it’s possible to do so safely, try to remove any item that could be used for self-harm. Use a calm voice and manner to keep the situation as controlled as possible.

Tags

Relationships

Related

Responding to Suicide Warning Signs Suicide Risk Factors: Teens, Elderly, and Military Veterans

Back to Knowledge Center

This information is for educational purposes and intended to promote consumer health. It is not medical advice and is not a substitute for proper care provided by a physician. Cigna assumes no responsibility for any circumstances arising out of the use, misuse, interpretation, or application of any information.

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details