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Suicide Prevention: A brief guide of what we need to know


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Suicide can be a difficult subject to talk about, however we all can play a role in suicide prevention. For a person to contemplate suicide, they are likely have experienced severe mental distress recently or are in a mental health crisis. They may feel that have no other option. If they are talking of suicide, please take it seriously and allow them to express how they feel. Helping them to talk about it though does not mean that they will act on their thoughts. They are in need of your compassion, by listening they can help them to feel heard.

Building trust and connection, showing that you care is crucial. Give reassurance to them that they are not alone, that you can look for support together. While they may not believe that there are things in life worth living for, it is possible to explore what those are or what things could help them keep safe. By being there for them, your presence alone can be a protective factor. If we are unable to listen to someone talking about their suicidal thoughts, we could be saving their life by facilitating the access of the help they need.

Encourage the person to access see their GP; if they are connected to a community mental health team they should be involved as well. Samaritans provides a safe place to talk, on 116 123 free-phone 24 hours a day. Alternatively, there are websites such as MindWell and MindMate that can provide further information. NHS 111 can also provide support, under mental health triage. If the person has seriously injured themselves or made an attempt in ending their life (for example, taken an overdose), call an ambulance on 999.

Supporting someone who is suicidal can be distressing, therefore it’s important that you also take care of yourself to ensure that your mental health is not adversely affected. Be compassionate to the wonderful person you are, because you matter too.

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