Suicide Prevention

You don’t have to be a mental health professional to help someone who is feeling suicidal; you just need to be able to listen. Asking directly about suicide is the right thing to do if you are worried about someone.

Many people fear talking directly about suicide in case they “give the person the idea”, but there is no evidence that talking about suicide can be harmful – quite the opposite in fact. For many people it can be huge relief to be asked the question in a direct way.

It is a myth that people who talk about suicide are unlikely to go through with the act. Anyone who talks or writes about taking their own life should be taken seriously. Never assume that a person who has spoken about suicidal thoughts before and not acted on those thoughts won’t do so this time.

Suicide is a can be a stigmatised subject, language is important i.e. ensuring we don't say things like 'commit' suicide

Very Brief Intervention


Be alert and aware

Not everyone who thinks about suicide will tell someone and there are some people who give no indication at all of their intention. However, there are warning signs that we can all look out for. These include, if a person is:

  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide. 
  • Actively looking for ways to kill themselves. 
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or of having no reason to live. 
  • Talking about being a burden to others. 
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain. 
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Suddenly very much ‘recovered’ after a period of depression. 
  • Visiting or calling people unexpectedly to say goodbye either directly or indirectly. 
  • Making arrangements; setting their affairs in order. 
  • Giving things away, such as prized possession

The best way to help is to ask questions. That way you leave the other person in control. By asking questions, the person you are talking with finds his or her own answers.

Ask how this person is feeling?

  • Often people want to talk, but wait until someone asks how they are. Try asking open questions, like 'What happened about...', 'Tell me about...', 'How do you feel about...' 
  • Repeat back what they say to show you understand, and ask more questions. 
  • Focus on feelings instead of trying to solve the problem - it can be of more help and shows you care. 
  • Respect what they tell you. Sometimes it's easy to want to try and fix a person's problems, or give them advice. Let them make their own decisions.
  • Be aware of verbal or physical cues of anger and/or emotional distress

Ask open questions like - When did you realise?

Where did that happen?

How did that feel?



If someone has been feeling low for some time it is probably a good idea that they get some support, whether it is through talking to someone like a counsellor or getting some practical help.

Useful questions you might ask them include:

Have you talked to anyone else about this?

Is there anything you did that helped you when you had felt this way before?

focus on coping mechanisms and protective factors

Would you like to get some help?

Or, for someone who is reluctant to get help:

Do you have someone you trust you can go to?

Have you had any suicidal thoughts/thoughts about taking your own life?

It's important to use word suicide, this doesn't plant suicidal thoughts or increase the likelihood or this happening of this happening. 

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, its important to be direct and this can enable someone to open up and discuss feelings with you.

Do you have a Suicide Safety Plan?

if someone is serious about taking their life, it may help them to talk this through, it wont put the idea in their head and this does fit in with Safetalk/ASIST approaches.


If you’re worried that someone is at immediate risk of taking their own life then phone 999, you should stay with that person until help arrives. Do not put your own safety at risk by getting physically involved.

 If no immediate risk take the following steps:

Encourage them to ring:

Samaritans - (All age groups)

Tel: 116 123, open 24 hours a day.

Papyrus - (Young people)

Tel: 0800 068 4141

Text: 07860039967


Lines are open 24 hours every day of the year (Weekends and Bank Holidays included)

Other options include:

  • contact their GP for an emergency appointment or call the out of hours service.
  • call their Mental Health worker, if they have one.
  • call their social worker or key worker, if they have one 
  • encourage to re-engage with mental health services if already engaged
  • go through their Safety Plan with them

If they don’t want help, don’t push them. Sometimes it’s easy to want to try and fix a person’s problems, or give them advice but try and at least leave a couple of key telephone numbers with them for Samaritans any local support numbers for their area (Crisis teams etc).

It’s usually better for people to make their own decisions. Help them think of all the options, but leave the choice to them.

A person may not be suicidal but you may still be concerned

Encourage them to contact their GP, they will be familiar with their medical history and will be able to direct them appropriately which may include a referral to the Primary Care IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies).  IAPT team are skilled in helping people 18 years old and older overcome emotional and mental difficulties like:

• Depression.
• Stress
• Anxiety
• Sleep problems
• Confidence and self-esteem problems

All the local IAPT services are listed under the 'Mental Wellbeingsection of MECC Link and can be found within the 'local support and contact details' section. 



  • Mind 'The charity for better mental health' has an extensive range of self help resources available
  • The NHS have has a range of self-help tools available
  • Andy's Man Club provides a weekly talking groups, a place for men to come together in a safe environment to talk about issues/problems they be have faced or currently been facing.  Meeting take place throughout Yorkshire and the Humber
  • A range of self-help techniques is available on the MindWell Leeds website, these include:
    • Stress
    • Anxiety 
    • Depression
    • Sleep
    • Self Harm
    • Having a baby

Local Support and Contact Details