Talk to someone you trust
Let family or friends know what's going on for you. They may be able to offer support and help keep you safe.
There's no right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings – starting the conversation is what's important.
Who else you can talk to
If you find it difficult to talk to someone you know, you could:
call your GP – ask for an emergency appointment
contact your mental health crisis team – if you have one
Is your life in danger?
If you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose – call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E.
Or ask someone else to call 112 or take you to A&E.
Tips for coping right now
try not to think about the future – just focus on getting through today
stay away from drugs and alcohol
get yourself to a safe place, like a friend's house
be around other people
do something you usually enjoy, such as spending time with a pet
The more open the question the better
Questions that help someone talk through their problems instead of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are the most useful. Questions like:
When – 'When did you realise?'
Where – 'Where did that happen?'
What – 'What else happened?'
How – 'How did that feel?'
Why – be careful with this one as it can make someone defensive. ‘What made you choose that’ or ‘What were you thinking about at the time’ are more effective.
At Samaritans, we call this style of conversation active listening.
Find out how they feel
Don’t forget to ask how this person is feeling. Sometimes people will talk you through all the facts of what happened, why it happened and what actions they are thinking of taking, but never say how they actually feel.
Revealing your innermost emotions - anger, sadness, fear, hope, jealously, despair and so on – can be a huge relief. It sometimes also gives clues about what the person is really most worried about.
Check they know where to get help
If someone has been feeling low for some time it is probably a good idea that they get some support, whether it is through talking to someone like a counsellor or getting some practical help.
Useful questions you might ask them include:
‘Have you talked to anyone else about this?’
‘Would you like to get some help?’
‘Would you like me to come with you?’
Or, for someone who is reluctant to get help:
‘Do you have someone you trust you can go to?’
‘If it helps, you can talk to me any time.’
Help for suicidal thoughts
If you're feeling like you want to die, it's important to tell someone.
Phone a helpline
These free helplines are there to help when you're feeling down or desperate.
Unless it says otherwise, they're open 24 hours a day, every day.
Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page
Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm
Text 07786 209697
Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won't show up on your phone bill
The Silver Line – for older people
Call 0800 4 70 80 90
Worried about someone else?
If you're worried about someone, try to get them to talk to you. Ask open-ended questions like: "How do you feel about...?"
Don't worry about having the answers. Just listening to what someone has to say and taking it seriously can be more helpful.
HOW TO START A DIFFICULT CONVERSATION
If you’re worried about someone and don’t know how to tackle it, there are some things you can do to help them open up.
If you're worried about someone try to get them to talk to you.
Often people want to talk, but wait until someone asks how they are. Try asking open questions, like 'What happened about...', 'Tell me about...', 'How do you feel about...'
Repeat back what they say to show you understand, and ask more questions.
Focus on your friend's feelings instead of trying to solve the problem - it can be of more help and shows you care.
Respect what they tell you. Sometimes it's easy to want to try and fix a person's problems, or give them advice. Let them make their own decisions.
How do I start a conversation with someone I’m concerned about?
You might feel that you don't know how to help someone, because you don't know what to tell them or how to solve their problems.
You don’t need to be an expert. In fact, sometimes people who think they have the answers to a problem are less helpful.
Don’t forget that every person is different, so that what worked for one will not always work for another.
Find a good time and place
Think about where and when to have the conversation before you start.
Choose somewhere where the other person feels comfortable and has time to talk.
Ask gentle questions, and listen with care
You might feel that you don't know how to help someone, because you don't know what to tell them. But you shouldn't tell them anything. Telling doesn't help.
The best way to help is to ask questions. That way you leave the other person in control. By asking questions, the person you are talking with finds his or her own answers.
Respect what they tell you, don’t pressure them
If they don’t want help, don’t push them. Sometimes it’s easy to want to try and fix a person’s problems, or give them advice.
It’s usually better for people to make their own decisions. Help them think of all the options, but leave the choice to them.
Being there for them in other ways, like through socialising or helping with practical things, can also be a great source of support.
If you say the wrong thing, don’t panic
There is no perfect way to handle a difficult conversation, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it didn’t go as well as you had hoped.
If you feel able to, put things right: “Last week I said … and I realise now that was insensitive so I’m sorry. What I meant to say was …”
Show you understand
Ask follow-up questions and repeat back the key things your friend has told you, using phrases like ‘So you’re saying…’, ‘So you think…’.
Look after yourself, and talk to someone too
Hearing someone else’s worries or problems can affect you too. Take time for yourself to do the things you enjoy, and if you need to talk, find somebody you trust to confide in.
Be careful not to make promises to people you may not be able to keep; this could relate to someone telling you they are experiencing abuse.
Don’t take on so much of other peoples’ problems that you yourself start feeling depressed.