TALKING ABOUT SUICIDE OR ASKING SOMEONE IF THEY ARE SUICIDAL IS A BAD IDEA AND MAY PUT THE IDEA IN THEIR HEAD OR BE INTERPRETED AS ENCOURAGEMENT.
There is no evidence that talking to someone about suicidal thoughts is harmful. In fact, talking and listening to someone with suicidal ideation can have a positive influence on them. It can reduce their fear and distress, remove the sense of loneliness and isolation, support them to seek help, reduce stigma and begin a path to recovery.
While it can be difficult to talk about suicide, research shows you can have a positive influence on someone who may be considering suicide by initiating a conversation with them and supporting them to seek help.
The main message is you don’t need to be a clinician, a GP, or a nurse to check-in with someone you are worried about.
It is OK to let someone know you have noticed they are struggling and ask them if they are experiencing thoughts of suicide.
You can ask the person directly if they are feeling suicidal or if they have been considering suicide. By discussing it openly and honestly, you are giving the person the opportunity to take the first steps towards getting the help they need.
It is normal to feel worried or nervous about having a conversation with a friend, family member or work colleague who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts, but there are resources available to help you.
Talking openly about suicide can come as a great a relief to someone who is thinking about it and may help them feel less afraid, rethink their opinions, share their story and be more in control.
Avoiding or tiptoeing around the issue can leave people feeling isolated and unheard.
The best policy is to try and help someone talk openly about how they are feeling and encourage them to seek help.
There is a widespread stigma associated with suicide and as a result, many people are afraid to speak about it. Talking about suicide can reduce the stigma,
Active listening is the crucial counterbalance to talking about suicide. Listen without judgment. Don’t interrupt the speaker. Sit alongside them in their pain. Practice empathy, mindfulness, authenticity and compassion.
Further information on how to talk about suicide can be found at these websites.
# You Can Talk – National campaign
Conversations Matter – resources for discussing suicide
Suicide Call Back Service – discussing suicide
Beyond Blue – Having a conversation with someone you’re worried about