Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Treatment of suicidal thoughts and behavior depends on your specific situation, including your level of suicide risk and what underlying problems may be causing your suicidal thoughts or behavior.
If you've made a suicide attempt and you're injured:
- Call 911 or your local emergency number
- Have someone else call if you're not alone
If you're not injured, but you're at immediate risk of harming yourself:
- Call 911 or your local emergency number
- Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
At the emergency room, you'll be treated for any injuries. The doctor will ask you a number of questions and may examine you, looking for recent or past signs of suicide attempts. Depending on your state of mind, you may need medications to calm you or to ease symptoms of an underlying mental illness, such as depression.
Your doctor may want you to stay in the hospital long enough to make sure any treatments are working, that you'll be safe when you leave and that you'll get the follow-up treatment you need.
If you have suicidal thoughts, but aren't in a crisis situation, you may need outpatient treatment. This treatment may include:
- Psychotherapy. In psychotherapy, also called counseling or talk therapy, you explore the issues that make you feel suicidal. You and your therapist can work together to develop treatment plans and goals.
- Medications. Antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, anti-anxiety medications and other medications for mental illness can help reduce symptoms, which can help you feel less suicidal.
- Addiction treatment. Treatment for drug or alcohol addiction can include detoxification, addiction treatment programs and self-help group meetings.
- Family support and education. Your loved ones can be both a source of support and conflict. Involving them in treatment can help them understand what you're going through, give them better coping skills, and improve family communication and relationships.
Helping a loved one with suicidal thoughts
If you have a loved one who has attempted suicide, or if you think your loved one may be in danger of doing so, get emergency help.
If you have a loved one you think may be considering suicide, have an open and honest discussion about your concerns. You may not be able to force someone to seek professional care, but you can offer encouragement and support. You can also help your loved one find a qualified doctor or mental health provider and make an appointment. You may even be able to go to an appointment with him or her.
Supporting a loved one who is chronically suicidal can be stressful and exhausting. You may be afraid and feel guilty and helpless. Take advantage of resources about suicide and suicide prevention so that you have information and tools to take action when needed. Also, be sure to take care of yourself by getting support from family, friends, organizations and professionals.
- Schreiber J, et al. Suicidal ideation and behavior in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index. Accessed March 13, 2012.
- Kennebeck S, et al. Evaluation and management of suicidal behavior in children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index. Accessed March 13, 2012.
- Warning signs of suicide. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?page_id=0519ec1a-d73a-8d90-7d2e9e2456182d66. Accessed April 30, 2012.
- Understanding suicide: Fact sheet 2012. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pub/Suicide_factsheet.html. Accessed Feb. 2, 2010.
- Logan J, et al. Characteristics of perpetrators in homicide-followed-by-suicide incidents: National Violent Death Reporting System — 17 US States, 2003-2005. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2008;169:9.
- When you fear someone may take their life. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?page_id=F2F25092-7E90-9BD4-C4658F1D2B5D19A0. Accessed March 22, 2012.
- Kolla BP, et al. The base rates and factors associated with reported access to firearms in psychiatric inpatients. General Hospital Psychiatry. 2011;2:191.
- Durkee T, et al. Internet pathways in suicidality: A review of the evidence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2011;10:3938.
- McDowell AK, et al. Practical suicide-risk management for the busy primary care physician. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2011;8:792.
- Kennebeck S, et al. Epidemiology and risk factors for suicidal behavior in children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index. Accessed March 13, 2012.
- Simon G. Effect of antidepressants on suicide risk in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index. Accessed March 13, 2012.
- Harvey SB, et al. Physical activity and common mental disorders. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 2010;197:357.
- Webb RT, et al. Suicide risk in primary care patients with major physical diseases. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2012;69:256.
- Revisions to product labeling. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/UCM096273. Accessed May 30, 2012.
- Suicide: Taking care of yourself and your family after an attempt (Family guide). The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Issue_Spotlights&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24452. Accessed April 30, 2012.
- Suicide: Taking care of yourself after an attempt (Consumer guide). The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Issue_Spotlights&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24452. Accessed April 30, 2012.
- Bostwick JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 28, 2012.