What to say if someone tells you they're suicidal

This World Suicide Prevention Day, you’ll see a lot of messages urging people to talk.

But once someone is brave enough to take that step and ask for help, what comes next?

Too many of us are scared of the words ‘suicide’ and ‘suicidal’, fearing that just by saying them we’ll do something wrong. We’re so scared of saying the wrong thing that it can keep us silent, even when we suspect that someone might be struggling.

To get us all more comfortable in the event of a mental health crisis, we spoke to the Samaritans and Mind for their advice on what to do and say if someone tells you they are suicidal, or you think they may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Listen without judgment

This is the first step, and it’s crucial. If someone makes the choice to open up to you, make sure you listen to everything they have to say without any judgment.

Be patient when listening and encourage them to talk. Don’t interrupt, speak over, or dismiss them. You may be the first person they’ve been honest with.

Try not to provide immediate advice unless they ask for it. Just listening and trying to understand can have a huge impact.

Try to remain calm and don’t make assumptions about why a person may feel the way they do. Just listen.

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