Personal Assistance Service (PAS) | 2200 West Main Street | Erwin Square Tower | 4th Floor, Suite 400A | Durham, NC 27705 | 919-416-1PAS (919-416-1727)

What to Do if Someone You Know is Having Thoughts of Suicide

  • If someone you know has an imminent threat of suicide, call 911.
  • If the individual is threatening suicide, but does not have a lethal method in hand and appears to be safe to transport, take them to the Emergency Room at the nearest hospital.
  • Remove all guns, knives, other cutting implements and pills from where the individual would have access to them.

Many people have thoughts of suicide at some time in their life. Often times these thoughts are just thoughts, not intentions, and can be viewed as a symptom that something is wrong, but are not cause for immediate alarm. If you are not sure if they are just thoughts, or the person is really planning suicide, ask. Someone who is has an imminent threat of suicide will have a plan and a means to carry out the plan.

Asking about suicide will not cause someone to become suicidal, but it may give a suicidal person an opportunity to get help that will prevent the suicide.

Encourage the person to talk to a professional to deal with whatever issues are triggering the thoughts. Many individuals with suicidal ideation are clinically depressed, which is a treatable disorder. Encourage or help the individual to call one of the following:

  • Duke Personal Assistance Service (if Duke Employee or family member): 919-416-1727
  • Primary care physician
  • Pastor, rabbi, imam, or other spiritual leader
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)

If you are a Duke manager or Duke employee and are not sure how to proceed, you may call Duke PAS and ask to speak with a clinician to get further guidance on steps you can take.