In Crisis: How To Help Someone Needing Mental Health Care

Oct 27, 2014

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some phone numbers to call:

  • Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Idaho's 24-hour crisis line: 2-1-1
  • Medical or public safety emergency: 9-1-1

If someone you know is in emotional crisis and you worry they're in need of help, here are some warning signs to watch for from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and National Institute of Mental Health.

  • Talking about wanting to die.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxiously, agitatedly or recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating oneself.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Extreme mood swings.

Other things you can do to help.

  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be nonjudgmental. Don’t debate. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Don’t act shocked. That will put distance between you.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available, but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns, sharp objects or stockpiled pills.
  • Get help by calling the hotline or visiting
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental-health professional.

"In Crisis" is a series about mental illness produced in collaboration between the Idaho Statesman and Boise State Public Radio.