The risk of suicide or serious self harm

If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it’s important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for committing suicide in the near future have a specific suicide PLAN, the MEANS to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and an INTENTION to do it.

Level of Suicide Risk
Low — Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.

Moderate — Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn’t very lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.

High — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.

Severe — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will commit suicide.

The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:

Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
Do you intend to commit suicide? (INTENTION)
If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, dial 999, or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.