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HealthInfo Canterbury

What to do if you think a young person may be suicidal

Important

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:

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.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Child Adolescent and Family Service, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed October 2020.

Sources

See also:

Understanding depression in young people for parents

Page reference: 163006

Review key: HISUI-53221