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
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
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.
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.
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).
Traveller Counselling Service
If you are a young Traveller, and would like to speak to a counsellor who specifically works with the Travelling community, the Traveller Counselling Service can support you. The service works from a culturally inclusive framework which respects Traveller culture, identity, values and norms and works from a perspective of culture centred counselling and psychotherapy. They offer counselling both in person and online.
Feeling overwhelmed and want to talk to someone?
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.