Practical Steps To Help

  1. Be alert as not everyone who thinks about suicide will tell someone, but there may be warning signs. See the Potential Warning Signs page for further guidance.

  2. Be honest if you are worried about someone. Tell them what your concerns are and let them know that you care about them. Give them time and space to talk about how they are feeling right now.

    If you feel that this person may be considering suicide, ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. This can be a daunting question, but it is safe to ask and helps both of you to be clear about the situation. Asking about suicide shows that you care enough to want to know how someone really is and gives them permission to talk honestly about a difficult and stigmatised subject.

    There are many ways to ask a clear, direct question about suicide. Here are a few examples:

    • Have things got so bad that you are thinking about suicide?
    • Sometimes when people talk about the feelings/situations you've been describing, they're thinking about suicide. Are you thinking about suicide?
    • The things you've been saying make me wonder if you're thinking about suicide. Is that how you're feeling right now?

    Use your own way to ask. The most important thing is that the question is clear and direct, so that you can both be clear about the answer. Asking is safer than not asking, and asking someone about suicide doesn't make it more likely that they will attempt suicide - quite the reverse. You might find it helpful to visit the Myths About Suicide section to clear up one or two myths about asking about suicide.

  3. Listen without judgement and help them talk. Just having someone to listen to their thoughts and feelings with compassion and patience can help people feel less alone and less overwhelmed. See the Things to Avoid page for further guidance.

  4. Help the person to get help. It’s OK if you don’t know how; the ideas on the 'Find Help Now' section can get you started. Find out what kind of help they would appreciate: it might not be from a professional service but could be a friend, family member, partner or other trusted person. Help them stay safe while help is being arranged - see the 'Staying Safe For Now' section.

  5. Take care of yourself. It is important that you look after your own wellbeing too. You may find it helpful to discuss your feelings with a friend, or a confidential service. See the Looking after Yourself section for more ideas.