New York State Police

Crime Prevention:
How to Help a Troubled Friend


Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only accidents and homicides take more lives in this age group. In the past, suicide was viewed as a sin or a crime.

Today we understand that someone who thinks or talks about committing suicide is not bad or weird, but deeply troubled and temporarily may be unable to cope with his or her situation. Most seriously depressed people can be helped through counseling and/or medication. Many suicides can be prevented if the problems are brought to light.

You Can Help by Getting Help

If you have a friend who has threatened or attempted suicide or who hints that he or she might do so ("I'm no good to anybody" or "I won't be around to bother you much longer"), it is vital to get help as quickly as possible. Talk to your school guidance counselor or your parents. You can locate a suicide and crisis hotline in your state by going online to Or you can call the National Runaway Switchboard (800-621-4000) or the National Hopeline Network [800-SUICIDE (800- 784-2433)] to get help for your friend. Both hotlines operate 24/7.

You Can Help by Listening

No matter how much you care about your friend, you probably won't be able to solve his or her problems, but listening may help. Here are some guidelines:

Signs That a Person May Need Help

Everybody feels depressed or sad from time to time. But sometimes these feelings last and become overwhelming. Here are some signs that may indicate that your friend needs help:

It's Not Your Fault!

If someone you care about becomes a victim of suicide, you may feel guilty. You may think that there was something you could have done to prevent it. You must keep in mind that nothing you said or did caused that person's suicide. You are not responsible for it. Talk with a counselor or trusted adult to help understand and deal with your feelings. Even if it's not your fault, you will still grieve for your friend.