Information About Suicide Prevention

You can help prevent suicide.

People who are suicidal often say or do things that are signals of their intentions. These warning signs provide a good opportunity to start a conversation, even if it is difficult. You may be unsure of how you can help, or uncertain of whether the person is actually in serious trouble, but asking about their feelings or intentions is an important first step. Talking specifically about suicide does not cause it to happen or plant the idea. Communicating your concern and offering to find help together, could save a life. If you are concerned about someone, don’t hesitate to take action right away!

Here's how you can help:

  1. Learn the warning signs for suicide.
    People thinking of ending their life often give hints about their intentions. Become familiar with the warning signs and not only take them seriously, but don’t wait to take action.
  2. Reach out and stay involved.
    Withdrawing from friends and family, not returning phone calls, not participating in activities the person previously enjoyed can be warning signs of feeling troubled. Continue to reach out, be persistent and don’t give up. Your efforts let people know you care about them.
  3. Start the conversation.
    Let the person you care about know you are concerned about them. You could say:
    "I am worried about you."
    "It seems like something is bothering you."
    "You don’t seem like yourself lately. How can I help?"
  4. Be direct and ask questions; even the ones you may be afraid to ask such as:
    "Are you depressed?"
    "Are you feeling that there is no way out?"
    "Are you thinking about ending your life?"
  5. If you think the person is suicidal:
    Stay with them, listen to them and take them seriously. Help them get help. Tell them to call the San Diego Crisis Hotline at (888) 724-7240 to talk to someone about how they are feeling. If you don’t think they are able to do this on their own, then offer to call with them.

Remember, even as a helper, you are not in this alone. You don’t need to provide support all by yourself; consider yourself the link to getting the person you care about the help they need. Reach out to other friends, family members, or a clergy person, rabbi or other faith leader. If you are concerned about the safety of a young person, encourage them to talk to an adult they trust and let them know that they are not alone. No matter what age the person is, suggest they call and talk to a counselor on the confidential San Diego Access and Crisis Line (888) 724-7240. There are effective, evidence-based therapies that help people who feel suicidal. If the person you are concerned about is scared or may not want to call, offer to call with them. You could save their life! 

While these thoughts, emotions and behaviors can be very painful and hard to manage, there IS effective help! Research shows that there are two different types of therapies that are tried and true and have proven to reduce thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts, self-harming behaviors and many other symptoms that co-occur.

Those therapies are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). The two therapies are from the same family but are different in their structure and modes of treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and found to be effective in hundreds of clinical trials for many different disorders such as depression, anxiety and some psychotic disorders. CBT is a structured, short-term, present-oriented therapy directed at solving current problems and modifying dysfunctional thinking and behavior with a change focus.

To find an adherent CBT therapist go to www.ABCT.Org and for more information on CBT visit www.beckinstitute.org.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and it is now recognized as the gold standard psychological treatment for this population. In addition, research has shown that it is effective in treating a range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders. DBT is a skills-focused, problem-solving treatment that aims to balance cognitive change strategies with acceptance strategies. To find an adherent DBT therapist and to learn more about DBT please visit www.behavioraltech.org.

Learn QPR to Prevent Suicide!

QPR, which stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer, is an emergency intervention to help a person who is considering suicide. In a one-hour training, individuals learn to recognize warning signs, what questions to ask, and how to offer hope and help. Anyone who is in a position to recognize the signs that someone may be considering suicide is encouraged to sign up. This includes parents, friends, neighbors, teachers, ministers, doctors, nurses, office supervisors,caseworkers, firefighters, and many others.

QPR trainings are offered at no cost in San Diego. To schedule a training, contact Lora Cayanan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (858) 609-7971 at Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP). See more at: http://www.sdchip.org/trainings.aspx.

An online training is available for $29.95 at www.qprinstitute.com.


If you or someone you care about needs to speak to someone or is in crisis and needs immediate help, please call the Access & Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240. Trained and experienced counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you. You don't have to suffer in silence, make the FREE call. If emergency medical care is needed,
call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

Now's the time to read up! With one in four adult San Diegans facing mental health challenges, it’s up to us to make San Diego a supportive community for those experiencing such challenges. Through education and awareness, the "It's Up to Us" bulletin offers mental health related information, resources, ways to get involved and also stay informed.