CARE is a tool anyone can use to respond to the possible warning signs for suicide that they might notice in someone else. It’s as simple as C-A-R-E.
If you notice any warning signs of suicide from someone you know — like changes in attitude or behavior — reach out to them. Make sure to make ample time and space to have an open and meaningful conversation. Always remain non-judgmental and validate their emotions. Remember, it's important for them to know that you're there, and that you're listening.
Once you’ve made a genuine connection, don’t be afraid to ask directly: are you thinking about killing yourself? Some fear talking about suicide openly and plainly will cause suicidal feelings, but actually, it can help open up the conversation about suicide and has even been proven to reduce suicide risk. Asking directly about suicide lets them know you’re comfortable with the topic and that you’ll be there for them, now and in the future.
If they open up to you about their suicidal thoughts or feelings, honor their trust by responding with compassion and empathy. Make sure not to ignore or dismiss their feelings, and to genuinely thank them for opening up. If you feel like you’re not the best person to provide them with the care they need, it’s okay to call that out and work together to identify others better suited to help. Remember, if a person has a plan to attempt suicide, put their safety first by working with them to contact supportive friends, family members, or trusted adults. You never have to be alone when helping someone in crisis.
Talking openly is a great first step, but now you can empower them with information and support that may help them improve their situation. Remind them that there are a variety of resources that can help them feel less alone in navigating their stressors, their mental health, and thoughts of suicide. You can ask them about their support system, and specifically discuss supportive parents, teachers, school counselors, social workers, or other adults in their life. Remind them that they can lean on their established support network, including their trusted friends, and practice self-care activities. And of course, they can always contact The Trevor Project through TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat, which are available for free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at TheTrevorProject.org/Help.
You are not responsible for anyone else's emotions or choices, and you are never alone when helping someone in crisis! If you need support in doing so, The Trevor Project is here for you, too.
You are not responsible for anyone who chooses to take their own life. As a friend, family member or loved one, all you can do is listen, support and assist them in getting the help they need.