When someone you know is at the risk of suicide

When someone you know is at the risk of suicide

It can be distressing to find out that someone close to you is having thoughts of suicide, but there are steps that you can take to lead them away from these thoughts.

Talk to the person privately and gently bring up the topic of suicide. By talking about suicide, you will be creating an open platform for conversation.

Ease into talking about suicide with lines such as, "I see that you've been looking dull for some time. Is something bothering you?" If the person's responses are similar to "I've been feeling dull," or "I'm a burden to my family," or "I feel like dying," treat them as warning signs of suicide. 

Acknowledge their distress. Don’t reassure them without knowing their situation. 

Words such as, "We all have problems in life," or "That is not a reason to end your life," will do more harm than good to the person. Instead, say, "It must be difficult for you to be facing such a problem." Validating their pain and lending an empathetic ear to the person will help them feel less hopeless.  

Offer unconditional and nonjudgmental support

Give the person enough time to feel comfortable and express their problems with you. Listen to them with full attention but try not to offer any solutions. The person is already feeling vulnerable so try not to use lines such as, "What will your family think about you?". Assure them that they are not alone and you are there for them. 

Make a pact in which they promise not to act on thoughts of suicide 

If you assess that the person seems intent on their plan of suicide, make a pact with them. Words such as, “Will you promise me not to hurt yourself until I find help for you?”  or "Will you give me a call as soon as such thoughts arise in your head?" will help in postponing their action and will give you time to look for a mental health expert. 

Help them list the things that make their life worth living for 

Remind them of the successes and achievements in their life. Focus on their strengths and positive factors in their life, which will help the person shift thoughts from suicide. 

Suggest that they meet a mental health expert 

Talk to them about seeking help and find a mental health professional for them. Mental health professionals, viz, a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist, help persons with thoughts of suicide in a structured manner. You could also suggest that they call a suicide helpline when such thoughts emerge. 

If you or someone you know if is need of help from a mental health professional, access our list of resources here.

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