Dealing with someone who is suicidal
Suicide is a major public health issue both in England and globally. Each year people from all walks of life die as a result of suicide and suicide remains the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK today.
What the numbers can’t tell us is the impact that suicide has on those left behind as people struggle to come to terms with and make sense of their loss.
However, suicide is preventable. It is a myth that once a person is seriously considering suicide there is nothing we can do. In fact most suicidal crises are time limited and offered support through the crisis period people are able to think more clearly about how they are going to deal with their problems.
We can prevent suicide. We can learn to spot the warning signs so that we can help support someone experiencing suicidal thoughts. Openly taking about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. (MHFA England. Adult MHFA manual 2016)
How do I respond if someone is expressing suicidal thoughts?
- Act promptly. Even if you’re not sure you should still approach someone you think may be suicidal.
- Explain your concerns, describing what led you to be concerned about the person
- If you’re worried that someone is at immediate risk of taking their own life, it’s best to stay with them and take one of these steps:
• Ring their GP or out of hours service for an emergency appointment
• Contact their Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) if they have one
• Encourage them to ring Samaritans on Freephone 116 123 (24 hours a day)
• Go to the nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department
• Call 999 or NHS Direct on 111 (England) or 0845 46 47 (Wales)
- Look after yourself. Supporting someone who is suicidal can be shocking and emotionally draining. Find ways of reducing the immediate stress and find someone to talk to about your experience.