Engaging with suicide can be difficult and confronting, so please proceed at your own pace, there is an exit button on the top right-hand side of this page if needed. We’re glad you are here and seeking out this information.
For most of us, we have grown up with the message that conversations about suicide are taboo. Many people are afraid or unsure about how to ask someone if they are having thoughts of suicide. Knowing how to support someone to share their thoughts of suicide can also be challenging.
There are many reasons why people in our communities experience thoughts and feelings of suicide or have died from suicide. Often there is a shroud of mystery or questions that might never get a direct answer when we ask “why?”
Even with new research and peer-led services, risks and contributing factors are different for each person.
We can reduce the risk of someone ending their life by making sure resources and support are familiar and available to them. Learning how we can ask and talk about suicide can give us strategies to support ourselves and the people around us.
How to ask someone if they are having thoughts of suicide?
It’s important that we ask someone directly if they are thinking about suicide. Asking someone if they are having thoughts of suicide can seem scary and there are lots of reasons why we might not want to ask.
Some reasons may be linked to the things people think about suicide.
You might be thinking that you don’t know what to do and worry that you might make it worse.
Maybe you feel powerless and that you can’t fix their problems.
You might be feeling that you won’t be able to handle it if they say they are thinking about suicide.
You might feel like if you talk about suicide, it might make them want to die.
It’s normal to have these thoughts and worries. We want to support you to have that conversation.
Things to say
- “Are you thinking about suicide?”
- “I’m here for you”
- “How can I support you?”
- “What do you need right now?”
- “How can we work to keep you safe?”
- “You’re not alone”
- “This is serious, and I want to help you keep safe”
Things to avoid saying
- “Just snap out of it”
- “That’s selfish”
- “You should be thinking about the people who love you”
- “It’s not that big of a deal”
- “You’re just being crazy right now”
- “You are just asking for attention”
Asking someone directly about suicide
Note: This is not a direct script. It is a guide for these conversations.
How to tell someone you are having thoughts of suicide?
Telling someone else you are thinking about suicide can be hard. It can feel like stepping into the unknown – what will happen when I say these things out loud? How will the person respond?
You may have had previous experiences that have resulted in emergency services, including the police getting involved or being taken to hospital against your will.
You might be worried about hurting the people you care about.
You might be feeling like you don’t even know where to start, or that there is no one reason you are thinking about suicide.
These are very valid thoughts and concerns. It’s so important we reach out when we need support and learn how to have these hard conversations.