Frank King’s TEDx Talk titled, A matter of laugh or death is one of the most powerful talks on depression and suicide I’ve ever watched. The concrete advice he gives at the end of the talk is spot on. What to say and what to *not* say to someone who might be suicidal. Practical advice supported by an app for mobile platforms. I added the number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Begin transcript of the last part of the talk:

Things not to say to somebody who’s brave enough to tell you they’re depressed. Don’t say, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Oh come on, turn that frown upside down. Yeah, yeah, my personal favorite, “You just need a checkup from the neck up.” If I hear that again I’m gonna throw up.

Things to say to someone who’s brave enough to tell you they’re depressed. Start with this, “Are you depressed or are you depressed depressed.” The depressed depressed meaning clinical depression. If they’re clinically depressed I would say this. “Um, you are not alone. I am here for you. It’s not your fault. You’re neither crazy, lazy, or seeking attention. I understand that it is not a character flaw or a moral failing. It is an illness. There is treatment available. And I will help you get it. And mean it.

Second, ask what thoughts they’re having. If they’re having thoughts of suicide here’s what *not* to say. Do not say, “Come on, you’ve got so much to live for. You’re just looking for attention. You won’t do it. Nobody who talks about it ever does.

Here’s what *to* say if somebody is having thoughts of suicide. “Don’t do it. Trust me. It works. Second, “Do you have a plan?” Yes or no. And if they have a plan “What is your plan?” And the more detailed the plan the more dangerous the situation. And if somebody tosses that grenade into your lap…

  • iOS and Android app, MY3,
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.2855

Here’s what I hope we’ve done today. We’ve started a conversation giving permission to people to give voice to their feelings about depression and suicide without recrimination and begun to create a common pool of knowledge in which those who suffer from depression and those who love them can swim.

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