Saturday 10th September marks World Suicide Prevention Day 2016. It can feel awkward, uncomfortable and even scary to try and support someone through suicidal feelings. However, even the smallest amount of help can go a long way to helping someone to feel better. Read our tips on helping someone through suicidal feelings (compiled from information by Mind and The Samaritans).
Do focus on the person’s feelings rather than trying to solve the problem. This shows that you care and gives the person more space to sort through how they feel.
Do ask open, non-judgmental questions about their situation such as, “When did that happen?” or “How did you feel?”
Do give them time to talk and reflect what they’ve said so they feel you are hearing them
Do encourage them to seek help. Immediate support for suicidal thoughts is available 24 hours a day through The Samaritans. You can ask The Samaritans to contact the person directly, however it is better to ask the person first so they feel in control. You could also ask how the person would feel about going to their GP or to see a counsellor.
Don’t feel you’ve got to ‘say the right thing’. There is no ‘right thing’. The fact that the person is talking to you means you are helping. If you feel you might have said something which didn’t help, you can say something like, “I realise I said something insensitive, and I’m sorry. What I meant to say was…”
Don’t think you’re putting ideas in their head by mentioning suicide. It’s okay to ask “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” to encourage someone to open up.
Don’t judge. It can be upsetting to hear someone talk about suicide and you might feel shocked, scared or angry. However, it’s important not to blame the person for how they are feeling or to make them feel guilty. The fact they are talking to you means they want to seek help.
Don’t neglect yourself. Seeing someone struggle with suicidal thoughts can be very draining. Make sure you look after yourself and don’t feel their thoughts are in some way your fault. Getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising are all very important in staying well.
For anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts, The Samaritans are available to listen 24 hours a day on 116 123. You can also call Bristol Mindline from Wednesday – Sunday from 8pm – midnight on 0808 808 0330. For more information about World Suicide Prevention Day, visit the National Suicide Prevention Alliance website.