Intervening when someone you know is in suicidal distress
If you are thinking about offering support to a friend or colleague who you suspect is in suicidal distress, here is are some steps to guide this conversation.
- Pick a place and time to maximise privacy.
- Start by expressing your concern and desire to help.
- Ask them directly if they have thought about suicide. Here are some ways to phrase this question:
- Are you having suicidal thoughts?
- Are you thinking about killing yourself?
- Are you thinking about ending your life?
- Keep the conversation or dialogue going, even if they won’t talk to you.
- Stay calm if they say yes.
- Listen and validate their struggle.
- Tell them you want to connect them to any of these supports:
You might help them make the call and / or accompany them to their first appointment.
- their GP
- a dedicated counselling service (such as Pieta) specialising in suicide-related behaviour, or
- any other mental health service. .
- Don’t promise to keep what they tell you a secret.
- Arrange a follow up call or meeting after this conversation.
- Remember to take care of yourself - some self-care tips include having a conversation with a supportive friend or colleague, taking a walk or a short break from your desk.