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How to tell someone you are feeling suicidal

It may feel difficult to start this conversation, but there are people out there who want to support you


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


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Having a tough time and need to talk? Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to chat anonymously with a trained volunteer. Standard text rates may apply.

The idea of telling someone you are having suicidal thoughts can be daunting. You may be worried about how they will react or what will happen after you tell them. Although it feels hard to do, reaching out and telling someone how you feel is the best way to get support for what you are going through right now.

How to tell someone you are having suicidal thoughts

If you are having a hard time knowing how to start the conversation, here are some things to consider.

Talking it out

Deciding who to tell

When it comes to deciding who to open up to about this, try to find someone you trust. If possible, go to someone who might be in a position to support you, such as a parent or guardian, a teacher, or a counsellor. Otherwise, go to a friend or someone else in your life who you feel comfortable confiding in.

If you are not ready to talk to someone you know, there are support organisations out there who can listen to you. Find out about suicide support services in your area. You can also speak to your GP who can let you know about support services in your area.

Pieta House run a free, 24 hour helpline for people who are feeling suicidal and engaging in self harm. Call 1800 247 247 or text 'Help' to 51444 to get started (standard text messaging rates apply).

Starting the conversation with someone

Try to have this conversation in a quiet, private space where you’re less likely to be interrupted. Let the person know that there is something serious you want to discuss with them, and you would appreciate their full attention.

Tell them what has been going on for you and how you have been feeling, including letting them know about your thoughts of suicide and self harm. Ask them if they can help to support you while you try to cope with these suicidal thoughts.

If saying it out loud feels too difficult, consider writing it out in a letter and asking them to read it while you sit with them. You could also send a text message, but remember that it could take a while to get a response, and it is often easier to have important discussions like these in person.

Learn more about how to open up to someone about your mental health.

Be prepared for any reaction

It is hard to know how a person will react to news like this. If it is someone you are close to, they might get upset. They could even appear frustrated or angry, especially if they are struggling to understand why you feel this way. Give them some time to process what you’ve told them, but let them know that you’re reaching out to them because you need their help and support.

If you don't get the reaction you were hoping for from the first person you open up to, keep reaching out to people until you find someone who can give you the support you need. Whatever their reaction is, it does not make what you are going through any less real or insignificant.

Supporting a friend

Let them know how they can help

Whoever you tell, the chances are they will want to help you in some way, but it can be difficult for them to know how to do that. Let them know what you need from them, whether it’s just to listen to you, to accompany you to a support service, or to help you make a safety plan to use when you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts. Telling them what they can do will allow them to better support you.

If you don't know what you need from them, that's fine too - simply making them aware is a big step.

Give them some information

If they are struggling to understand or you think they might not know much about suicide, consider giving them some information. Direct them to the suicide content on SpunOut.ie or bring them with you to an appointment with your GP or support service where they can ask questions.

Seeking professional help

Although it is very important to have the support of your friends and family when struggling with something like suicidal thoughts, seeking professional help is the best way to address the way you are feeling. Visit your GP to discuss your options for finding support locally, or find out about suicide support services in your area.

Pieta House offer services for people who are feeling suicidal and engaging in self harm. Call 1800 247 247 or text 'Help' to 51444 to get started (standard text messaging rates apply).

Having a tough time and need to talk? Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to chat anonymously with a trained volunteer. Standard text rates may apply.

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Published August 30th2019
Last updated Novem­ber 22nd2019
Tags suicide suicide prevention suicide awareness APcontent
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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