More threads by Superiority Tails

If I promised a friend not to kill himself. There's a chance that he will and a chance he won't. How long could that last if he follows through with his promises.


In my experience a promise not to commit suicide means very little. But a promise that I will "see you in the morning," or even more significant, that I will DO SOMETHING FOR YOU in the morning, is more of a force worth reckoning with.
It is the relationship behind the promise and probably not the promise itself that means something.
For example, I have had many residences in my life and signed leases/contracts. Never before have I been "kept alive" by not wanting to disappoint my landlord. But the landlord I have right now has invested in me emotionally, knows my story (basics) and is giving me a second chance at life. There is relationship, so my promise that I have to pay her rent at the begininning of every month for the next 6 months means something. Granted when I am extremely suicidal that alone will not keep me alive.
I am starting DBT at a local hospital in a few weeks and will have to sign a contract not to kill myself for a year. No relationship (and a self defeating contract....)
So I asked, "So, Dr. K, why is this supposed to mean anything to me.... and what are you gonna do to me if I break my promise?? Kill me again?"
But once I form a relationship with Dr. K I am sure that his expectation that I be in group and therapy will be a motivator to keep me alive.
To sum up: it is the relationship behind a promise and the sense of purpose it brings that saves a life.



Suicide intervention is a formidable task, and it is obvious you care about someone important to you.

The goal of suicide intervention is to keep your friend safe until your friend can come in contact with competent professional help.

You can ask your friend for a promise to stay safe for a specified period of time, but the promise has to be backed up with an agreement to contact either a crisis line, or to be seen by a doctor or a mental health emergency service.

Do you know if your friend has attemped suicide before or if s/he uses drugs or alcohol?

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
There you go. Either that or it wasn't a serious wish to die to begin with, but rather a statement of unhappiness or disatisfaction.


Chances are that his feelings will pass and that he will feel better, eventually.
But, and I hate to bring up the negative, what if the feelings don?t go away? Would it be better to wait around and hope for the best, or talk with him, encourage him to seek help, and help him through it? Is it worth the risk? I don?t know your friend, but in my experience a promise as vague as that means very little, and it?s up to him to decide whether or not to keep it. If he chooses not to keep it, then what?

Even if he?s not entirely serious on it, what can encouraging or helping him seek help hurt? I think it could only help. If nothing else, it would show him that you care about him and are concerned for his well-being.

This is just my opinion from experience, feel free to disagree, you know your friend while I don?t.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
I agree, Cheyenne. Whether or not you think a suicide threat is serious, a cry for help, or attention-seeking, it is always wise to take it seriously. Even if the individual does not wish to end his/her life, s/he may do something drastic, even if unintentionally.


The best way to prepare for the possibility of your friend ever talking about suicide is to get the phone number of your local crisis hotline and carry the number in your wallet.

If your friends has suicidal thoughts again, phone the number and put your friend on the phone.

Have a look at this Psychlinks thread for suicide prevention resources
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