If you think someone may be suicidal, ask them. It could save their life. Asking about suicide will not put the thought in their head. It’s important to ask directly so you can get them the help they need right away.
In crisis? Here is where you can find help for you or someone important to you right now.
Spot the signs
Have you noticed changes in someone’s behaviour that is affecting their life in a negative way? It’s a good time to speak up.
You may feel uncomfortable asking, but it’s important to be clear and direct. It can be as simple as “Are you thinking about suicide”.
They could avoid the question, they could be offended, they could get upset, but at least they’ll know you have their back.
How to help
People are most likely to turn to close friends or family for support.
That’s you. Be non-judgemental, take the time to listen, and acknowledge how they’re feeling.
Connect them with professional help to take the pressure off you. By involving a professional, you have someone who you can share the load with.
Setting clear expectations will help you maintain a healthy relationship while still being supportive.
If they talk about suicide or not wanting to be there (even as a joke), start giving stuff away, or are saying goodbye to friends, these are signs you need to take seriously and do something about- even if they’ve asked you not to.
What if they ask me not to tell anyone?
If you think anyone in your life could be in danger of hurting themselves or someone else, tell somebody ASAP. Reach out to their parents/ caregivers, school counsellor, kaumātua, trusted whānau, friend or contact The Lowdown Team.
Here’s some ways you can help a friend who is suicidal:
- If you feel they are in immediate danger of harming themselves don’t leave them alone. Get help.
- Take it seriously
- Acknowledge their feelings, thoughts and what they are going through
- Listen to what they have to say
- Be calm and understanding
- Show your concern by paying attention and asking questions
- Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions, for example, “Are you hurting yourself?”, “Are you thinking about suicide?”, “Do you have a plan? If they have a specific plan, they need help right away.
- Ask them if they want to talk about what’s going on for them with you or someone else. They might not want to open up straight away, but letting them know you are there for them is a big help.
- Don’t promise not to tell. Instead, you can say something like, “I need you to know that I can’t keep this as a secret”, and work to create a plan you’re both comfortable with.
- Problem solve with them- maybe they don’t want you to tell their parents, instead you could agree on someone else you could go to (trusted whānau or an adult friend).
- Try and remove any dangerous objects from their room (e.g. knives, pills, rope, anything sharp).
- Stay with them until a professional can join you to help, or for as long as it is safe for you to be there.
Finally, don’t forget to look after your safety as well. You’re not alone in this.
Protect your wairua and treat yourself with the same care that you would offer others.