How to report a suicide threat

close up of police dispatcher's mouth image by David Smith from

A suicide threat is a real and imminent emergency. Because there is no way to know if the threat is serious or simply a cry for help, if someone threatens suicide, respond quickly and decisively to prevent a tragic outcome.

In today's society of Internet use, a suicide threat may occur online on a website or it may occur in another way involving personal contact. However the threat occurs, report a suicide threat immediately to the appropriate authorities to keep the suicidal person safe and get him the help he needs to survive the situation.

Recognise the threat as a cry for help. Even if the person does not actually intend to harm himself, threatening suicide can be a way of voicing hopeless feelings and the desire on the part of the person to end the pain he is feeling. Respond with urgency to help.

Find out where the person is if you are not actually with the person when she makes the threat. Get the person's exact location, including street address. Know the person's cell phone number also, if possible.

Call the local police department and report the suicide threat. Be prepared to furnish the person's full name, location and the person's cell phone number, if possible. Also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) to speak with a crisis counsellor.

Stay with the person until help arrives if you are together. If you are not with the person, try to stay connected by telephone.