Minding Your Mental Health

Supporting someone who might be suicidal

Reporter

Reporter:

Reporter

Supporting someone who might be suicidal

Talking to a friend or family member about their thoughts of suicide can be very difficult.
Don't be afraid to ask a direct question using clear language. For example, "You seem very low and I'm worried about you. Are you thinking of ending your life?"
Asking such a direct question won't give the person the idea to take their own life. By asking the question, you will give the person an opportunity to open up and to talk.
If the answer is yes, don't panic. The best you can do is to listen to them without judgement or blame.

Listen and understand
Give the person space to explain what is going on for them and how they feel about it. Avoid responses which reject how they are feeling or minimise how they feel. Do not try to change their view of their situation without listening.

Take it seriously
Show that you believe the person and that you take any talk of suicide seriously. Most people do not talk or think about suicide lightly. There may be a serious risk of death.

Be realistic
Keep in mind that nothing is going to change quickly. It will have taken a long time for the person to get to this place. It will take more time to build up the supports and resources they need.
Even once you have linked in with support services, the person's risk of suicide can remain for some time.

Stay connected
When someone is feeling suicidal, they can withdraw from everyone. Being connected to other people who care about them will reduce the person's suicidal feelings.

Get help
The person will need help and support from others, not just you.
Think about who else can help, for example: other family members, friends, work colleagues
If there is an immediate risk that the person will harm themselves, they will need emergency help.
Be aware of your own reactions
Put your feelings aside while you respond to the person's needs. Try to remain as calm and non-judgemental as possible.
Call 999 or 112 if you or someone you know is about to harm themselves.