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HELP FOR SUICIDAL FRIEND: The best thing to do is to be direct, says one rural health specialist. Say, “Are you thinking about suicide?” Then ask if you can call a relative, or someone close to the person. For an imminent threat, call 911.

What to do if you fear someone might be suicidal

A mental health consultant suggests doing one thing when you are worried that someone might be thinking of committing suicide.

What should you do if think someone might be thinking of committing suicide?

Ask them the question, advises Monica Kramer McConkey, a rural health specialist with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture: “Are you thinking about suicide? Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

It’s best to ask about suicide directly so there is no question about the person’s state of mind.

And what if their answer is “yes?”

Ask if you can call their spouse, parents, brother, sister, pastor, doctor or someone else close to them.

Get other people involved, McConkey advises. If suicide is an imminent threat, call 911. Don’t leave them alone.

And if the individual says they are not thinking of suicide, don’t feel embarrassed that you asked the question.

If you saw a person on the side of the road who had an automobile accident and looked as if they were hurt, you wouldn’t drive by without asking if they needed help, would you?

“This is no different,” McConkey says.

You can reach McConkey at 218-280-7785 or at

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