There is no special language. Don’t be afraid to use terms such as ‘suicide’ and ‘killing yourself’. There is no evidence that this will make someone more likely to kill themselves.
Speak openly, ask direct questions and encourage them to get help and support. Being listened to will make them feel less alone.
If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say anything. What if you’re wrong? What if the person gets angry? In such situations, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. But anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help—the sooner the better.
Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care. Giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express their feelings can provide relief from loneliness and negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt.
Ways to start a conversation about suicide:
“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
“I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”
Questions you can ask:
“When did you begin feeling like this?”
“Did something happen to make you start feeling this way?”
“How can I best support you right now?”
“Have you thought about getting help?”
What you can say that helps:
“You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”
“You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”
“I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”
When talking to a suicidal person
Be yourself. If you are worried that someone is going to kill themself, it can feel hard to talk about. Let the person know you care, that they are not alone. Finding the right words are not nearly as important as showing your concern.
Listen.You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to listen. Talking can help people to work through their problems. It can make them feel less alone. It can encourage them to seek professional help. Most importantly, it makes them feel listened to – and that can save lives.
Show you care. Reassure that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let them know that their life is important to you. Nobody knows exactly what other people are going through in life. Everybody has lows and bad times and everybody responds to them differently. If we all resolve to care more about other people we can help make the world an easier place for people who are struggling with mental health problems.
Take the person seriously. If a suicidal person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask if they’re having thoughts of suicide. You’re allowing them to share their pain with you, not putting ideas in their head.