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suicidal thoughts

suicidal thoughts

This resource explores what support you can get if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts – how you can help yourself and tips for reaching out

Suicide is the act of intentionally ending your life. If you have, or have had, thoughts about taking your own life, it’s important you ask someone for help. It may not seem like it right now, but you’re not alone and are not beyond help.

Many people who have had suicidal thoughts say they were so overwhelmed by negative feeling they felt they had no other option. However, with support and treatment, they were able to work through these feelings to recovery.

How can I help myself now?

Don’t make a decision today
You don’t need to act on your thoughts right now. Try to focus on just getting through today. You can always reassess how you feel tomorrow.

Go to a safe place
This could be your bedroom, a friend’s house, a library. Wherever you feel is best for you.

Be aware of your triggers
Triggers are things which make you feel worse. You may find that certain music, photos or films make you feel worse. Try to stay away from these.

Be around other people
You may find it too difficult to speak to anyone at the moment. That’s okay. But try not to spend too much time alone. You could go to a shopping centre, gym, coffee shop or park. Being around people can help to keep you safe, even if they don’t know how you’re feeling.

Stay away from drugs and alcohol
These affects the parts of your brain that control judgement, concentration, behaviour and emotions and may make you feel worse and more likely to act on suicidal thoughts.

Distract yourself
This might seem impossible, but distracting yourself even for a short while can really help reduce your feelings. Think about what you enjoy doing. You could watch a film, visit a park, treat yourself to your favourite food. Try to really focus on sounds, tastes and smells that calm you.

Reach out

You may feel you can’t speak about how you’re feeling. But this is the first step to getting help. Try talking to someone you feel you can trust. If you don’t feel you can do this, there are helplines you can call.

Helping someone who is suicidal

What are the warning signs? A change in someone’s behaviour might be a sign that they are having suicidal thoughts. These could include:

  • Becoming anxious, irritable or confrontational
  • Having mood swings
  • Acting recklessly
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Preferring not be around other people
  • Having more problems with work or studies
  • Saying negative things about themselves

If you’re worried someone you know is suicidal

  • Be alert. Not everyone who thinks about suicide will tell someone, look for signs.
  • Be honest. Tell the person why you’re worried about them, and ask about suicide.
  • Tell them you want to know how they are, and that it’s OK to talk about suicide.
  • Listen. Just listening is one of the most helpful things you can do. Try not to judge or give advice.
  • Help them access professional support
  • Take care of yourself. Discuss your feelings with a friend or a support service.

It is important to remember that talking to someone about their suicidal thoughts does not them more likely to end their life.

What to do in a crisis

If you are with someone who is expressing the current intent to end their own life:

  • Try to bring the person to a calm environment
  • Explain what you are doing and why
  • Remain calm, even if the person is in distress
  • Don’t undermine their feelings, be supportive and accept what they are telling you
  • Ask about their reasons for living and dying. Try to explore their reasons for living in more detail.
  • Offer to help them feel safe & be open to making reasonable steps to help them
  • Follow up any commitments that you agree to.
  • Try to get help, be that another person or calling the police
  • Stay with them until help arrives.

Seek further help

Once the person is no longer in crisis, please provide them with these contacts (and help them to make contact if need be). They can really help provide further support going forward:

Samaritans (116 123) is a 24-hour anonymous service available every day of the year. If you prefer not to speak on the phone, you can email Samaritans at

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Breathing Space (0800 83 85 87) is a website and phone service for anyone experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety.

NHS 24 by dialling 111 if you feel you need to speak with a medical professional but cannot wait for your GP.

contact us

Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.

Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.

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