What to do if you suspect someone is suicidal

Byby Juan Carlos Guerrero KGO logo
Thursday, June 7, 2018
What to do if you suspect someone is suicidal
Robin Williams and Kate Spade are two celebrities that died by suicide. Both suffered from depression and substance abuse.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The apparent suicide of Kate Spade, someone who apparently had it all, shocked many people, just like the suicide of comedian and actor Robin Williams in 2014.

Both had successful careers, were wealthy and famous. Yet both also shared a few common warning signs for suicidal tendencies. Spade was reportedly depressed about a possible divorce. Her sister, Reta Saffo told The Kansas Star that Spade was drinking heavily. Williams had battled depression and substance abuse for years.

ALLIES IN ACTION: Get help with mental health issues

Studies have shown that 80% of all suicide attempts are done in the spur of the moment. Both Spade and Williams hung themselves.


There are several risk factors that can lead to suicide. Mental disorders are the most common, including severe depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia.

Some warning signs to look for include:

Alcohol or substance abuse

A sense of hopelessness

Problems sleeping or sleeping too much

Withdrawal from activities, friends or family

Expressing rage or extreme mood changes

Feeling anxious or agitated


Don't stay quiet if someone is openly talking or posting on social media that they want to die or kill themselves. Ask if they are having suicidal thoughts. Tell the person you care about them and that you want to help them.

Don't dismiss their feelings. Show empathy for what that person is going through. Let them know that depression is a mental disorder and that it is treatable. Offer them hope and encourage them to seek counseling or support.

If someone is an immediate threat of dying by suicide, call 911 or a crisis intervention line.

For more resources for mental health issues, go to our Allies in Action section.