In the lead up to World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September, we look at ways you can support someone who may be struggling with their mental health.
Many people can feel overwhelmed or struggle to cope at times during their lives. If you think someone may need help, reach out and let them know you care, even if they’re not ready to talk – tell them that you are there for them and you’re willing to help them access the support they need.
These are some general signs to look out for that may suggest something is wrong:
Anger or aggression
No interest in things they usually enjoy
Using alcohol or drugs
Sleeping or eating more or less than normal
Acting out, and risk-taking behaviour
Talking about feeling unable to escape their thoughts
Saying they feel worthless
Having no energy or being tired all the time
What can you do?
If you think someone is struggling, here are some tips on how to open up a conversation with someone:
Choose a good time and place to ask them if they are OK, or tell them that you are worried about them. Sometimes it’s better to just explain to people that you are worried as it can open up a conversation faster than a question which can result in a YES/NO answer.
Be present and don’t feel you have to fill a silence.
Listen carefully and give them your full attention. Put down your phone and make eye contact. Allow the other person time to speak.
Be patient, but keep reaching out. It may take time for a person to be ready to open up about their feelings. Active listening is about creating trust and a safe environment to express how they are feeling.
Ask gentle, open questions to help them think & reflect, and to help you clarify that you have understood what they have said.
If you are worried about someone and think they may be suicidal, do not be afraid to ask them directly, as this could help save a life.
If you or someone you know is in distress, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000
For more information on supporting someone who may have suicidal thoughts,click here.