Worried about someone?
At James’ Place we talk to people about suicide every day, but we don’t underestimate how hard it can be to talk to someone you care about if you are worried that they are having suicidal thoughts.
Please be assured that talking to someone about suicide won’t put the thought into their head or make them feel worse. We know that having that conversation with someone can be the first step to getting them the help they need.
If you are concerned that someone you care about is feeling hopeless and might be facing a suicidal crisis, the best thing to do is ask direct questions and listen to their answers.
Here are some of our key tips.
Be ready to listen
This is a big conversation and you need to stop what you’re doing and listen. Be prepared for their response, which may be emotional or upsetting.
You are about to have a very difficult conversation and you may need to take some action after it – so be prepared – have some useful phone numbers and contact details available for helplines and their GP. Hub of Hope is a useful resource and will quickly signpost you to what is available in your area.
It is OK to ask someone if they are feeling suicidal. We know it can be scary, but you can say what you mean and use those difficult words – suicide, killing yourself, taking your life. It won’t put ideas into their head. It will help them to start talking about how they are feeling.
‘I’m worried about you and some of the things you have been saying. Are you having thoughts about killing yourself?’
Be in the moment with the person, don’t try to dissuade or invalidate their feelings, give them that time to express their feelings. Listen to what they are saying, and how they are feeling, rather than focus on what you are feeling.
Remember you are there to offer support to them. A simple statement like “I’m so sorry that you’re feeling like this” will let them know you are listening and you care .
Start to come up with a simple plan – remember no one will be expecting you to solve all their problems – at this point you will just be helping the person decide what they want to do next. An offer of practical support such as “let’s get you some help, shall we call your GP?” is a valuable first step.
If you agree to do something, make sure you follow through. Say what you’re going to do to help them and stick to it.
It can be really hard to hear what someone in a suicidal crisis is saying, especially if it feels it might be about you or if it takes you back to a place when you were struggling. It’s important to look after yourself and know that there is support available for you too. See below for some useful resources.
If you believe that a man you care about who lives in the Merseyside or Greater London area could benefit from James’ Place support and is not currently being supported by a psychiatrist or mental health team, please contact us.
You may find it helpful to complete the training course from the Zero Suicide Alliance. Our Clinical Lead, Jane Boland has helped develop this training as the subject matter expert.