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HealthInfo Canterbury

What to do if you think someone may be suicidal

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If you're concerned that someone might act on a suicide plan, take action IMMEDIATELY to keep them safe.

Here are some things you can do or say if you think someone close to you may be suicidal:

Comforting friend

Talk to the person. It isn't true that talking to a person about suicide means they're more likely to attempt suicide. It's more likely that the person will be grateful that you'll help them. Ask directly: "I'm frightened that you're thinking about killing yourself. Is this true?"

Try other things to say, for example:

Remind people of the positive things in their life and give them hope.

Remove any objects that could be used to attempt suicide.

Don't leave the person alone – get help.

Listen without judgement – don't get angry or minimise the problem.

If someone pushes you away and you're still frightened that they're at risk of suicide, the right thing to do is to get help for them. You don't have to worry about confidentiality or their wishes if you're concerned they may kill themselves. There's only so much you can do alone. It's OK to ask for professionals to help you.

Getting help

There are many people and organisations that can help your friend or whānau/family member. Contact the one that's easiest for you.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Support after a suicide attempt (for family & friends)

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by chief of Psychiatry, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed October 2020.


Page reference: 48717

Review key: HISUH-48714