Support if you're concerned someone may be thinking about suicide

two men talking over coffee

How to talk about suicide

If you’re concerned that somebody close to you might be thinking about suicide, it’s important that you reach out in some way. This can mean starting a conversation about the person's thoughts and feelings or sharing resources that can help. Listen without judgment as what they share could be upsetting. 

Speaking to somebody about suicide can be difficult. These tips will give you an idea of how to plan the conversation.

Find the right place

When planning the conversation, think about where you might talk. Will the person feel at ease, safe and comfortable there? Having the conversation in a familiar place can help people to open up.

 

The place doesn’t have to be a private area. It can be anywhere that the person feels most comfortable, like a park bench or a local café.

Get people talking

To fully understand how the person is feeling you will need to help them to talk. You can

 

Try to begin the conversation by stating your worries, and why you have those concerns.

Ask open-ended questions like ‘How long has this been going on for? Be patient and give the person time to open up.

Maintain eye contact, and offer reassurance to show that you are listening carefully.

These tips will get the conversation off the ground and give it room to flow.

Listen carefully

It is important to stop what you are doing and listen when a person tells you that they are having thoughts of suicide. This will help in making the person feel understood and cared for.

 

It may be difficult for a person to explain or describe their feelings, so be open-minded and patient. Don’t interrupt or ask questions when they’re talking. Allow them time to put their feelings into words and let the person drive the conversation.

Ask about suicide

It’s important to ask whether the person has had thoughts of suicide, as it will help you to understand how severe their feelings are. It may sound daunting, but as the conversation develops and you both become more comfortable, this question should be easier to ask.

A sk in a non-judgmental way whether the person has thought about suicide and prepare yourself for the answer.

Reassure the person that lots of people think about suicide and that it’s OK not to feel OK.

 

If the person says that they have contemplated suicide, then ask if they have made any plans to carry it out. It’s important that you understand where they are in their struggle. 

If you are concerned about an immediate risk to life, call 999

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Free online suicide prevention training 

To help you to prepare for a conversation about suicide and suicidal thoughts, Zero Suicide Alliance offers a free 20-minute online suicide prevention training course.

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Share the right support

Useful resources for someone who is thinking about suicide

It's important to be aware of the help and support available if you're planning to have a conversation with someone who may be considering suicide. As well as the tips for talking about suicide provided above, make yourself familiar with the services and support the person could use if needed.