Suicide describes the act of intentionally ending one’s own life and is sometimes used as a way of ending pain or suffering.
Thinking about suicide can be scary; you may feel that you are alone and that things will never be better. Thinking about it doesn’t necessarily mean you will do it and it doesn’t mean you’re going crazy; often it is a sign that you want to escape.
How can I protect myself from suicide?
There are things that can help you feel better. Remember, you are not alone. Building connections with other people will help. If you are having thoughts about suicide, you can talk to a family member or friend you trust. You could also speak to a professional such as your GP, Samaritans or the Crisis Team in your area.
Mental health problems are a big part of suicidal ideation. You can help protect yourself by finding help for mental health problems early.
Here are common signs of mental health problems:
- feeling like nothing makes you happy anymore,
- feeling very sad or hopeless for many weeks,
- feeling like you cannot cope with things that happen in your life,
- feeling very stressed or scared for many weeks,
- noticing strange thoughts or noticing strange things that do not go away. Some people hear voices that other people do not hear,
- sleeping less or more than usual,
- eating less or more than usual,
- drinking more alcohol or using more drugs than usual,
- taking a lot of time off work or school,
- avoiding family and friends,
- feeling “run down” or sick often.
Talk to your doctor if you notice these signs. Your doctor can see what may be causing the problems.
You may be worried about someone else ending their life. Some of the warning signs include the person:
- talking about wanting to kill themselves,
- using more drugs or alcohol than usual,
- saying they have no reason to live,
- seeming very scared or worried,
- saying that they feel like there is no way out of a situation,
- Being unable to envisage the future,
- not wanting to spend time with others,
- doing things that are dangerous and not thinking about what might happen,
- having extreme mood changes.
Supporting someone who is talking about feeling suicidal can be difficult: there is sometimes a fear that, if you speak to someone about feeling suicidal, it will increase the risk. This is not true; more often the person will be relieved that you care.
A way to start a conversation about suicide is by asking the other person if they want to end their life soon and if they have a plan. If they do want to end their life soon and do have a plan, it is an emergency. Do not leave the other person alone and call for help.
If they do not plan to end their life, they will still need help; you can help by simply listening to them. Most people who are thinking about suicide feel alone; by listening to them, you are showing you care and that they are not alone. You are not expected to be an expert or know all, or any, of the answers.
How to help
- take the other person seriously. They are in pain and they need help,
- show the other person that you care. Do not judge them or make fun of them,
- not make promises that you cannot keep,
- show that you are listening and understand by summarising what they have said or asking for clarity if you are unsure,
- not give advice like, “cheer up” or “pull yourself together”.
It can be hard to reach out and ask for help, but there are people you can talk to who will not judge you. Sometimes it helps just by having a conversation about how you feel. Some agencies who can help are:
Tel: 116 123
Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. Samaritans provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.
Tel: 0300 123 339
Tel: 0800 068 4141
Papyrus provide advice for anyone who is thinking about suicide or to anyone who is worried about someone else
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
Tel: 0800 58 58 58
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) works to prevent male suicide and offers support services for any man who is struggling or in crisis.
Tel: 0800 11 11
ChildLine is a counselling service for children and young people.
Kooth.com is an online counselling service that provides vulnerable young people, between the ages of 11 and 25, with advice and support for emotional or mental health problems. Kooth.com offers users a free, confidential, safe and anonymous way to access help.
Tel: 0808 802 5544
YoungMinds offers advice for children and young people and parents or carers who are worried about a child or young person
Tel: 0808 808 4994
The Mix support young people between the ages of 13-25 and are a free and confidential multi-channel service.
Students Against Depression
Students Against Depression is a website offering advice, information, guidance and resources to those affected by low mood, depression and suicidal thinking. Alongside clinically-validated information and resources it presents the experiences, strategies and advice of students themselves.
Tel: 020 7263 7070
Maytree provide people in a suicidal crisis with the opportunity for rest and reflection and give them the opportunity to stay in a calm, safe and relaxed environment. They can support four “guests” at a time. The service runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The warm and friendly volunteers and staff team spend up to 77 hours with each guest over their stay, giving them the opportunity to talk through their fears, thoughts and troubles. On leaving, each guest receives a goodbye letter. This is a personal record written by a member of Maytree’s staff team which reflects their stay, validates their struggles and honours their achievements.