Suicide prevention

How to engage with someone who has attempted to end their life

White Swan Foundation

It may be distressing and confusing to know that someone close to you has attempted to take their life. Here are some ways to help them to recovery. 

Get medical help immediately

When you find that someone has made an attempt to take their life, call an ambulance or rush them to a hospital immediately. Ensuring that their life is out of danger is of primary importance.

Avoid making judgements, showing anger or asking too many questions on what happened

A person who has attempted to take their life is already in a very troubled and confused state of mind. Avoid judging them, showing anger or disgust. They need your support and may not be ready to discuss the event.

Assure them that they have your full support

A person who has attempted suicide needs your support. Stay with them during this difficult time and verbally assure them that they are safe and have your unconditional support.

If you assess that they are still at the risk of suicide, watch them without being intrusive

If you assess that they still seem to be at the risk of suicide, try not to leave them unattended. You can care for them without being intrusive to their space.

Gently encourage them to talk to a trained mental health expert or seek counseling

Once out of medical danger, gently introduce the idea of seeking mental health help. You can reach out to a counselor, psychologist or a psychiatrist.

Help them make a list of people they can talk to when they are struggling

Help them create a list of people they can talk to in times when they are feeling vulnerable or hopeless. This list can include family and friends that they trust and also a counselor who may be willing to be on call in case of emergency. They can also opt to call mental health/ suicide helplines. 

Help them move on from the event by engaging their time in other activities

An attempt at taking one’s life should not define a person or their life. Help them move on by nudging them into a healthy daily routine that includes work, family, friends, exercise, etc.

If you need support to come to terms with the event yourself, take a break or talk to a trained counselor about it

Being available to a person going through emotional or mental turmoil can be exhausting. Be sure to care for yourself, physically and mentally. If you find yourself troubled and overwhelmed by the chain of events, take a break or fix a meeting with a counselor to talk it out.

Try not to analyze how you could have prevented the act.

Try not to feel guilty or speculate how you could have stopped your friend/relative from attempting to take their life. Allow yourself to feel emotions like anger, frustration and grief. Talk to someone you trust to unburden yourself. 

White Swan Foundation