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Suicide: Here’s what you need to know

You can talk to someone right now if you need to.


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide or self harm, you should immediately contact your local doctor or go to the A&E department of the nearest hospital. The doctors and hospitals in your area will be listed in the Golden Pages.

If you are reading this page then perhaps you or someone you know is in trouble. Or maybe someone close to you attempted or died by suicide.

Helping someone at risk of suicide or self harm:

Suicidal feelings can be frightening for the person experiencing them aswell as their friends and family. Suicide is complex and sometimes there may seem to be no obvious reason as to why someone might feel suicidal. Someone who is feeling suicidal may find it difficult to talk about their feelings, and what’s going on for them. They may want people to understand but may not have the words to adequately describe what is going on.

  • Don't leave your friend alone. If necessary, call 999 and wait for help to arrive. Let your friend know that you will stay with them until help arrives or offer to go with them when they seek help.
  • Don’t be afraid be direct and ask the question- 'are you suicidal'?

  • If a friend tells you that they feel suicidal or are at risk of self harming, it is important that you encourage your friend to get help and that you also talk to someone who can help. Give them the space to be open and explain what is going on for them.
  • Even if your friend has asked you not to tell anyone, it is important that you talk to a professional so that your friend can get the support that is needed.
  • You and your friend can talk to a doctor, school /college counsellor or support organisation such as Samaritans (116 123).
  • Be open and listen if a friend or family member wants to talk about their feelings or problems. Many people who are thinking of suicide try to talk to a friend first.
  • Support your friend without judging them. Let them know that you are ready to help them or keep them company if they need it. Don't get angry with them if they aren't ready to talk. Use phrases like "I'm worried about you and I want to help" or "Whatever's bothering you, we'll go through this together."
  • If you are worried about someone and not sure how best to help, then talk to a doctor or contact Samaritans (116 123) for confidential support or call Pieta House on 1800 247 247.

Click here for other organisations that can help.

Spot the signs of suicide infograph from Pieta House

Recognising a risk of suicide:

Below are just some of the signs that may mean that someone is feeling suicidal. If you or someone you know shows any of the following signs, get help immediately.

  • Someone who has attempted suicide in the past.
  • Someone who self harms (to deliberately hurt or injure yourself) or has self harmed in the past.
  • Talking about suicide and death, making final arrangements or feeling that death is the only option. More than two-thirds of people who die by suicide have told someone that they are thinking of suicide. LISTEN and ACT if someone talks to you about suicide.
  • Talking about going away or getting away from problems.
  • A feeling of hopelessness or of no escape from depression.
  • A feeling of isolation or becoming isolated.
  • Self-destructive behaviour like abusing alcohol or drugs, driving too fast or taking big safety risks.
  • A sudden calmness after serious depression. This might mean that the person has decided to attempt suicide and feels ready to do it.

See the help section for contacts details of support organisations.

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Published January 2nd, 2013
Last updated September 8th, 2016
Tags suicide depression mental health
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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