On average two people take their own life in Scotland every single day – for family and friends, work colleagues and acquaintances the impact of losing someone in such tragic circumstances can be devastating. Some people considering self harm or suicide are at a time of crisis and their distress may be clear however often there are no obvious signs, unless you know what to look for and are vigilant.
If you are concerned about someone with low mood or depression, asking them if they’re suicidal won’t make things worse. Evidence shows it could protect them. If someone is feeling suicidal, it might be hard to get through to them. They might be distant or distracted or feel disconnected from the world and their own emotions. They might not respond right away. But asking someone directly if they’re having suicidal thoughts can give them permission to tell you how they feel.
If someone does let you know that they are having suicidal thoughts, always take them seriously. You don’t have to be an expert, just being there to listen and showing you care can help them work through what’s going on. Let them know they’re not a burden and there’s always someone they can turn to – whether it’s a family member or friend, or one of the organisations noted below:
is here to support people who are living with suicidal thoughts, their families, friends, and communities.
The Mind to Mind Website features real people talking about their own experiences and offers advice to support them with their challenges. Topics include dealing with anxiety and panic, handling stress, sleeping better, lifting mood, and moving through grief.
The Samaritans offer advice on how to start a conversation with someone you are concerned is experiencing suicidal thoughts:
- Choose a good time, and somewhere without distractions
- Use open questions that need more than a yes/no answer
- ‘How are things, I’ve noticed you don’t seem quite yourself?’
- Listen well. ‘How’s that making you feel?’
- Avoid giving your view of what’s wrong, or what they should do
It’s normal to feel anxious about asking someone if they’re suicidal, but it could save someone’s life. Try and avoid saying things like ‘you’re not thinking of doing something stupid are you?’. Being patient and showing you care builds trust and helps someone to open up.
You could ask:
- Have you thought about ending your life?
- Are you saying that you want to die?
- Are you thinking of ending your life because you want to be dead, or is it because you want the situation you’re in or the way you feel to stop?
The Employee Counselling Service provided by Health Assured offer a range of supportive options including online programmes and telephone counselling sessions. You can access the service directly or by telephoning 0800 028 0199 or by downloading the app via Apple Store or Play Store for Android devices. Contact the Wellbeing Team to get a username and password: email@example.com