If you or someone you know is in danger of suicide, please seek help immediately. You should:

  • Call 999;
  • Call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000;
  • Use your local emergency department.

Don’t try to manage your or someone else’s suicidal thoughts on your own. Remember, thoughts about suicide are just that – thoughts. They won’t last forever and often they pass quickly. Many people who have had serious thoughts about suicide have said that they feel completely different only hours later.
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I'm worried someone I know may be feeling suicidal

If you think someone's life is in immediate danger ring 999 or go to your local hospital emergency department.

It is distressing to realise that someone close to you may be thinking about taking their own life. It is difficult to know what to say or do but remember most people who feel suicidal do recover from these intense feelings. You, family, friends and health professionals can make a big difference in helping your friend or loved one stay safe and find reasons for living.

What you might look for

Many factors are involved in how your friend is feeling. People at risk of suicide often feel very isolated and alone. They may feel that nobody can help them or understand their pain. When they can’t see any other way of dealing with their difficulties, suicide can seem the only way out.
Sometimes people who have been distressed and openly suicidal for some time become outwardly calm. Be aware that while this could be a sign of recovery it may be because the person has decided to complete their suicide plan.
If someone is not their usual self or if they are showing signs that worry you, don’t ignore it. You need to talk to them about how they are feeling.
Mental health problems, previous suicide attempts and stressful or traumatic life events can increases a person’s vulnerability to suicide.
The following are events, feelings and behaviours to consider that may indicate a person might be thinking about suicide. 

Events – what’s happening in the person’s life? Have they experienced recent life events such as: 

  • diagnosis of a physical or mental illness;
  • recent loss of a loved one, a job, income or livelihood, a pet;
  • relationship breakdown, separation from children;
  • major disappointments such as failed exams, missed job promotions;
  • major changes in circumstances such as retirement, redundancy or children leaving home;
  • suicide of a family member or friend, or public role model; and/or
  • financial and/or legal problems? 

Feelings – how does the person feel? Difficult life events and changing circumstances affect each person in different ways. Most people who experience them do not consider suicide, but some do.  Be aware of:

  • how the person feels about what is happening to them;
  • what this means to them;
  • whether they are feeling stress or pain;
  • whether the pain (physical, emotional or psychological) seems bearable. 



Behaviours – what is the person doing? People at risk of suicide can give clues by their behaviour. These may include:

  • previous suicide attempts;
  • talking of feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless;
  • being moody, sad or withdrawn;
  • increasing their use of alcohol or other drugs;
  • talking of feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless;
  • taking less care of themselves and their appearance;
  • losing interest in things they previously enjoyed;
  • finding it hard to concentrate;
  • being more irritable or agitated;
  • talking or joking about suicide;
  • expressing thoughts about death through drawings, stories or songs;
  • saying goodbye and/or giving away possessions;
  • leaving organised group activities such as social or hobby groups or study;
  • engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviour.


What to do

Act immediately to respond to the person by following these steps:

  • Do something now. Take warning signs seriously. Reaching out could save a life. Seek urgent help if it is needed by calling 999 or take the person to your nearest emergency department.
  • Ask if they are thinking of suicide. Talking about suicide will not put the idea into their head but will encourage them to talk about their feelings. Don’t agree to keep it a secret since the person’s safety is your main concern.
  • Acknowledge your reaction. You might panic or want to ignore the situation. If you are struggling, get the help of a trusted friend.
  • Be there for them. Spend time with the person, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling, identify who they can call on for support and encourage the person to agree to get further support.
  • Check out their safety. Ask how much thought the person has put into taking their own life. If you are really worried don’t leave the person alone. Remove any means of suicide available including weapons, medications, alcohol and other drugs, even access to car.
  • Decide what to do. Discuss together what action to take. You may need the help of others (partners, parents, close friends or someone else) to persuade the person to get professional help. Only by sharing this information can you make sure the person gets the help and support they need.
  • Take action. Encourage the person to get help from a local health professional such as a GP, counsellor or telephone helpline service.
  • Ask for a promise. Ask the person to promise they will tell someone if suicidal thoughts return. This will make it more likely they will seek help.
  • Look after yourself. It is difficult and emotionally draining to support someone who is suicidal, don’t do it on your own. Find someone to talk to, friends, family or a health professional.
  • Stay involved. Thoughts of suicide do not disappear easily. The continuing involvement of family and friends is very important to the person’s recovery.

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