Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Actions to Support a Person who is at Risk for Suicide

If there is active suicidal ideation/risk of a person killing himself/herself, or if a person with depression presents a considerable immediate threat or harm to others, it is important to seek urgent attention from a qualified professional . In such cases, the expert panel recommends the following immediate actions:

  • Call a crisis line, crisis team, or local emergency phone number, or take the person to the emergency department.
  • Determine whether the person has access to a means or has the ability to end his/her life.
  • Maintain safety: do not leave the person alone, and consider warning others who may be at risk.

The expert panel recommends the following actions to support a person who is at risk for suicide:

  • Assess whether the person has adequate social support.
  • Provide the person with information regarding sources of help/support.
  • Consider a referral to specialized mental health services.
  • Increase the level of support (e.g., more frequent phone contact).
  • Assess the potential toxicity in overdose if an antidepressant is prescribed or the person is taking other medication that could be used to end one’s life, and, in collaboration with the person and his/her prescribing practitioner, explore the possibility of limiting the dose.
Older Adults
Delirium, Dementia, and Depression in Older Adults: Assessment and Care
Point of Care Resources