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Explains how to support someone who feels suicidal, giving practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support.
If someone feels suicidal, talking to someone who can listen and be supportive may be their first step towards getting help. They could talk to someone in their life. They could also talk to a professional such as a doctor or therapist, or a trained listener at a helpline. (See our information on talking treatments and helplines.)
If you feel able to listen, you could ask them about how they are feeling. It could help if you:
"Not undermining their feelings and letting them know that you believe them and want to be there for them is really necessary as well."
"You can find yourself tiptoeing around the subject because you’re scared of saying the wrong thing and you wish you could make everything better. I knew from my own experiences that being told: don’t say that, or you don’t mean that, doesn’t help. It can help just to say that you’re here and you’re sorry things are hard right now. You don’t have to have all the answers."
You don't need any special training to show someone you care about them. Here are some things you can do to offer emotional support:
For more about how you could offer support, see our information on supporting someone else to seek help for a mental health problem.
Having these conversations can be hard so it's important to take care of yourself too. Our page on supporting yourself has some suggestions.
This information was published in January 2017. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.