Starting a conversation about suicide

You may have come to this site looking for clear suggestions about what to say, or not say, to someone who is suicidal, or how to tell someone about your own suicidal thoughts or feelings.

We think there is no right or perfect way to start a conversation about suicide. The only really important thing is that you do start it.

We hope the following will help you find your way to start your conversation about suicide. 

If you're concerned about someone

It might help to remember that…

…Everyone is qualified to talk about suicide; you don’t need to be a doctor or therapist!

…You can’t make someone suicidal by talking about it

Once you've begun, bear in mind that…

…There will probably be false starts that lead to nowhere or lead somewhere uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean it was a bad idea to start talking; it just means it’s not easy to talk about, and it may take you time to find your way.

…On hearing about someone’s suicidal thoughts or feelings you may experience very strong emotions such as fear and anger, alongside your wish to care and help. This is to be expected, and you don’t need to feel bad about it.

… You have limits, everyone does! You can learn about them and when you feel you’ve heard enough for the moment, it's fine to say you need a break.

… A conversation about suicide is not a one-off, you can return to it.

If you are feeling suicidal

It might help to remember that…

…You can choose who you’d like to talk to - someone close to you, or someone less likely to be emotionally affected, such as your GP, or a support organisation.

…It takes tremendous courage to decide to trust someone with your suicidal thoughts and feelings. Just trying to do so is a great step in a good direction. Keeping such feelings secret is not helpful in the long-term as it's likely to make them stronger.

Once you've begun, bear in mind that…

…You may not always get the response you want or need at first. This doesn’t mean there’s no point in talking, or that the person doesn't care.  It simply means it’s not easy to talk about; it may not be easy for someone to hear, but you can try again.

…A conversation about suicide isn’t a one-off; you can take breaks and return to it.

…Having started to talk doesn’t mean you always have to be willing to talk. If you don’t want to continue the conversation it's fine to say you need a break.


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