There are different reasons why someone might experience suicidal feelings. There may be an obvious cause, such as a particular event or problem. It may also be because of a combination of different factors. There may also be no obvious reason. Suicidal feelings may appear suddenly or develop gradually over time.
Myth: If a person is serious about killing themselves, there is nothing you can do.
Fact: Often, feeling suicidal is temporary, even if someone has been feeling low, anxious or struggling for a long period of time. This is why getting the right kind of support at the right time is so important.
Talk and Listen
If you think someone is suicidal, one of the most important things you can do is to talk to them about how they feel and be there to listen.
If you find it difficult to know where to start, you could try:
- Asking open, non-judgemental questions about their situation such as, “When did that happen?”, “How did you feel?”
- Exploring their thoughts about suicide, by asking “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or “What thoughts have you had about suicide?”. This can help them talk about their feelings and can give you an understanding of their thoughts and intentions.
- It’s important to use the word ‘suicide’ or being clear about asking if someone has considered ‘taking their own life’. Being direct gives the message that it’s ok to talk about suicide openly. It also avoids any ambiguity.
- Asking about suicide will not make someone more likely to attempt it. By asking directly, you give someone permission to tell you how they feel. Once someone starts talking, they’ve got a better chance of discovering other options to suicide.
Giving them time to talk by listening and reflecting back what they have said. It’s understandable that you may feel pressure ‘to say the right thing’, but remember by just being there and listening in a compassionate way, you are helping that person to feel less isolated and frightened.
Try Not to Judge
It can be very upsetting to hear that someone is thinking about taking their own life. It’s understandable to feel shocked, frightened or angry. However, it’s important to try not to judge that person or blame them for the way they are feeling. Often, finding someone who is prepared to listen and be supportive is the first step towards a person seeking help.
Be aware of the words you use. Asking someone ‘if they are going to do something silly’ can minimise the issue and may cause someone to feel unable to talk about how they are feeling.
It can be tempting to suggest reasons not to consider suicide e.g. ‘think of how hurt your family would be’. This can increase feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
It is important to explore sources of support with the person. You could talk to them about the idea of getting help and ask them how they feel about this. By doing this, you can start to encourage them to get support.
If you are planning to ask someone about thoughts of suicide, it can be useful to have some information to hand about sources of support.
Sources of Support
If the person is already receiving support from mental health services, you will need to contact the team that cares for them during their normal working hours. This would be their best option for seeking help.
If the person’s needs are urgent, needing immediate help from a mental health professional, then they should attend their nearest Hospital A&E department and ask for a mental health worker to see them.
For non-urgent matters encourage the person to make an appointment to see their GP and they will assist them to access the most appropriate service.
The Sanctuary provides support from 8pm – 6am for adults in crisis and those experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, depression or suicidal thoughts. Tel: 0300 003 7026 Email: www.selfhelpservices.org.uk/sanctuary
Papyrus HOPELineUK - This is a confidential suicide prevention helpline service for young people thinking about suicide or for anyone concerned about a young person. Open 10am – 10pm weekdays, 2-10pm weekends and 2-5pm Bank Holidays. Tel: 0800 068 4141 Text: 07786 209697 Email: email@example.com Webpages: www.papyrus-uk.org
Other Useful Information
Salford Suicide Prevention Strategy: http://www.salfordccg.nhs.uk/preventsuicide
Salford Children and Young People’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing Directory: www.partnersinsalford.org/youngemotionalhealth.htm
Young People’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing Resources: www.wuu2.info/emotional-health-and-wellbeing/
Salford CCG: www.salfordccg.nhs.uk/mental-health-services-in-salford
Salford City Council: www.salford.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/health-services/mental-health-support
The Sea of Hands of SupportFind out more
'The Sea of Hands of Support' supported by The Big Lottery highlights to those of us suffering from mental ill health and at risk of self harm and/or suicide that we are here for them and available to reach out to them and be reached out to.
Vigil of RemembranceFind out more
Losing a loved one to suicide is different than losing a loved one as the result of a disease or a tragic accident. With suicide the person has actually chosen death.
Surviving Suicide ExhibitionFind out more
The exhibition will be made up of art works crafted by survivors of suicide and exhibited at a high profile gallery within Salford.
World Suicide Prevention DayFind out more
World Suicide Prevention Day, 10th September every year, aims to encourage people to educate themselves and others about preventing suicide; to take action to reduce the suicide incidences by promoting prevention strategies; and to ensure that people at risk of suicide can be reached out to by the community, free from stigma.
City of Salford 10kSign up today
Runners supporting our campaign can claim a discount when entering the race. Enter discount code START5 and it will take £5 off the entry fee. Please contact us should you wish to run on START’s behalf and you will be provided with a sponsorship form and 'Reach Out-Start to End Suicide' T-Shirt.
See some of the work created for the Reach Out project in our gallery.
SupportFind out more
Visit our support page further information, other sources of support and useful links.
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