Emergency Behavioral Health Services provide a professional counselor who is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year in the UPMC Western Maryland Emergency Department. Counselors are specialized in the provision of crisis assessment and intervention for individuals who present emotional, psychiatric or addiction-related issues.

You and your loved one may be interviewed to determine the presenting problems, obtain a brief history of the problem, and evaluate the degree of stress and decompensation. Patients are medically examined by an Emergency Department provider before seeing the counselor. After the counselor completes the evaluation and determines a disposition, you will be referred to the appropriate level of care. A psychiatrist is available on-call for consultation if needed. This service is the official Prescreening Site for Crisis Assessment and Evaluation for Allegany County, Maryland.

Crisis Phone Line: 240-964-1399

UPMC Western Maryland Emergency Department
12500 Willowbrook Road, Cumberland, MD 21502

Open 24 hours a day.

Local Resources: Click to download and view a complete pdf list of local resources.

Suicide Prevention

If you suspect someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, don’t wait to take action. Here is information to help understand suicidal thoughts and tips for identifying someone in crisis.

You cannot predict death by suicide, but you can identify people who are at increased risk for suicidal behavior, take precautions, and refer them for effective treatment.

1. Ask the person directly if he or she (1) is having suicidal thoughts/ideas, (2) has a plan to do so, and (3) has access to lethal means:

“Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
“Have you ever tried to hurt yourself before?” “Do you think you might try to hurt yourself today?”
“Have you thought of ways that you might hurt yourself?”
“Do you have pills/weapons in the house?”

  • This won’t increase the person’s suicidal thoughts. It will give you information that indicates how strongly the person has thought about killing him- or herself.
  • Take seriously all suicide threats and all suicide attempts. A past history of suicide attempts is one of the strongest risk factors for death by suicide.
  • There is no evidence that “no suicide contracts” prevent suicide. In fact, they may give counselors a false sense of reassurance.


2. Listen and look for red flags for suicidal behavior, indicated by the mnemonic: IS PATH WARM?

  • Ideation—Threatened or communicated
  • Substance abuse—Excessive or increased

  • Purposeless—No reasons for living
  • Anxiety—Agitation/Insomnia
  • Trapped—Feeling there is no way out
  • Hopelessness

  • Withdrawing—From friends, family, society
  • Anger (uncontrolled)—Rage, seeking revenge
  • Recklessness—Risky acts, unthinking
  • Mood changes (dramatic)


3. Act.

  • If you think the person might harm him- or herself, do not leave the person alone.
  • Say, “I’m going to get you some help.”
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK. You will be connected to the nearest available crisis center.
  • Go to SAMHSA’s Mental Health Services Locator ( or Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator

1. What does it mean to be a survivor of suicide?

Suicide affects millions of people each year. The phrase ‘survivor of suicide’ can have several meanings. Someone who lost a loved one to suicide is referred to as a survivor of suicide loss. Someone who has survived a suicide attempt is referred to as an attempt survivor.

2. There are many myths about suicide that still exist.

Myth: Someone who is going through or has experienced a suicidal crisis cannot help others.
Reality: Helping others can be part of healing from crisis. It is important not to make assumptions about what a survivor of suicide can or cannot do. Instead, approach survivors of suicide by listening, asking questions, and providing empathy and support.

Myth: A person who attempts or dies by suicide is selfish.
Reality: When someone attempts or dies by suicide, they often have experienced a disruption in their social connections. To assume someone who attempts or dies by suicide is selfish, assumes that the person did not consider how their decision would impact those around them – which is often untrue. People who attempt or die by suicide usually do think about how the decision will impact those around them, but their thinking is usually incorrect. People thinking about suicide often feel like a burden to those around them and (incorrectly) think their loved ones would be better off with them no longer around.


Myth: A person who attempts or dies by suicide is weak.
Reality: Remember the saying, “Don’t judge someone before you walk a mile in their shoes”?

The problem is, when we try putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we usually bring our brain too; meaning, we view their situation from how we would think or respond to it, not how that person might think or respond to it. It is important to remember that everyone experiences things differently, thinks about things differently, and responds to things differently.

3. After a Suicide Attempt or Suicide Loss

Talk about it. A suicide attempt or suicide loss can start a conversation about mental health within a family, friend group, or community.

Listen. LGBTQ+ individuals may choose to talk about their identity with friends or family members after a suicide attempt or loss.

Process your thoughts and feelings. It is normal to have questions after someone close to you attempted suicide or died by suicide. A common question might be, “Why didn’t they tell me they were struggling?” or “Could I have done something different?”. Suicide loss can bring up feelings of shame and guilt for friends and family members. If you need support processing a loved one’s suicide attempt or death, counseling can be a safe space to work through your thoughts and feelings.

Not being okay is okay. Communities can raise awareness about mental health and suicide by having conversations about mental health and suicide. Messages can include encouragement to seek help when needed and remind people that they are not alone.

Healing is a non-linear and lifelong process. Each day, survivors of suicide cope with their grief. Coping strategies may change over time and some days may be better than others.

How can I help? It can be hard to know what to say to someone who has lost someone to suicide or attempted suicide. Sometimes, not knowing what to say can feel overwhelming and that might cause people to say nothing at all. Even though it might feel uncomfortable, the best thing you can do is to reach out and offer support. Listen to the person and ask “What do you need from me right now?”.

4. Resources

Know you can survive; you may not think so, but you can.

Struggle with “why” it happened until you no longer need to know ” why” or until YOU are satisfied with partial answers.

Know you may feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your feelings but that all your feelings are normal.

Anger, guilt, confusion, forgetfulness are common responses. You are not crazy, you are in mourning.

Be aware you may feel appropriate anger at the person, at the world, at God, at yourself. It’s okay to express it.

You may feel guilty for what you think you did or did not do. Guilt can turn into regret, through forgiveness .

Having suicidal thoughts is common. It does not mean that you will act on those thoughts.

Remember to take one moment or one day at a time .

Find a good listener with whom to share . Call someone if you need to talk.

Don’t be afraid to cry. Tears are healing.

Give yourself time to heal.

Remember, the choice was not yours. No one is the sole influence on another’s life.

Expect setbacks . If emotions return like a tidal wave, you may only be experiencing a remnant of grief, an unfinished piece.

Try to put off major decisions.

Give yourself permission to get professional help.

Be aware of the pain in your family and friends.

Be patient with yourself and others who may not understand.

Set your own limits and learn to say no.

Steer clear of people who want to tell you what or how to feel.

Know that there are su p po rt gro ups t hat can be helpful, such as Compassionate Friends or Survivors of Suicide groups. If not, ask a professional to start one.

Call on your personal faith to help you through.

It is common to experience physical reaction to your grief, e.g. headaches, loss of appetite, inability to sleep.

The willingness to laugh with other and at yourself is healing.

Wear out your questions, anger, guilt, or other feelings until you can let them go. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting.

Know that you will never be the same again, but you can survive and even go beyond just surviving.