Counsellor Naomi Watkins-Ligudzinska answers your questions on suicide
Q: How can I support someone experiencing suicidal thoughts?
A: It’s best to stay calm and collected, and remember they are talking to you for a reason. It is really important that we react with empathy, not shock or panic, and do not close the conversation down. It is then about supporting the person with regular check-ins and not forgetting about them. Kindness and care go a long way.
Q: Is suicidal ideation something people can recover from?
A: Yes, with time, space, and the right support. Therapy is one option, but we also need to consider someone’s support network. If they struggle to identify someone they can confide in, which helplines are they comfortable accessing until their next therapy session, or when they are experiencing suicidal thoughts?
Q: A friend makes jokes about suicide and it makes me feel uncomfortable. Should I confront them?
A: If something makes you uncomfortable, it is always best to say something. For example, “When you joke about suicide it makes me feel uncomfortable,” and then just leave a space for them to respond.
It could be they are covering up suicidal feelings of their own, or they do not understand how hurtful jokes like that are. It is always best to be honest and tell someone how you feel.
Q: I sometimes see people post worrying things on social media. Should I step in?
A: A check-in message or phone call will never hurt – something simple like, “Hey, I saw your post, is everything OK?” To care about someone, we need to let them know we care. It could just be that simple message that helps someone to challenge their thoughts and not feel alone.
You can always report a post to the social media platform if you are really worried, but they may just remove the post and not offer support to the individual.
If the person doesn’t reply, look to see if any family are connected to their profile – you could contact them through the platform. If you feel someone is in immediate danger, call 999 and ask the police for help.
- Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a line for men, and is open from 5pm–midnight: 0800 58 58 58
- Papyrus supports young people under 35 years old. Call them on 0800 068 41 41
- Shout offers a crisis text line. Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258