What to do if you - or someone you know - is having suicidal thoughts

How to spot if you're having suicidal thoughts and what to do about it [Photo: Getty]
How to spot if you're having suicidal thoughts and what to do about it [Photo: Getty]

One person takes their own life every 40 seconds, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed, despite the number of people dying by suicide declining.

Soboring new statistics ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) reveal that close to 800,000 people die to suicide, with suicide being the second-leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29, after road injury.

But despite making some grounds in helping to reduce the overall suicide rate, the headlines surrounding the subject continue.

Earlier this year, news that former ‘Love Island’ star Mike Thalassitis died at the age of 26 shocked the UK.

His death followed that of fellow contestant Sophie Gradon who was found dead at her parents’ home after a battle with anxiety and depression.

In June, last year, the fashion world mourned the tragic death of handbag designer Kate Spade, who reportedly took her life in her New York home.

Days later, news of the suicide of American TV chef, Anthony Bourdain, emerged.

The high profile deaths offer proof that the battle to help improve suicide rates is far from over.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) say: “Suicide is complex. It usually occurs gradually, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide and finally dying by suicide.”

It isn’t always easy to know whether you or someone close to you is feeling suicidal, and in some cases, there are no signs at all.

To help, and in a nod to World Suicide Prevention Day, the wellbeing experts at CABA offer their advice on spotting the signs that you or someone close to you might be experiencing suicidal thoughts:

Spotting the signs in yourself

According to the mental health charity Mind, many people think about suicide at some point in their lives. Here are some of the things you may think or feel:

  • Everything's hopeless - what's the point in living?

  • There's nothing positive in your life, everything's negative

  • Everyone would be better off without you

  • You're useless, unwanted or unneeded by others

  • Your unbearable pain is never going to end

  • You're physically numb - you feel cut off from your body

  • Taking your own life is your only option

Meanwhile, you may also experience things like sleeping problems (including waking too early), changes in your appetite and you may lose or gain weight.

Your self-esteem may also be very low, and you may try to avoid contact with other people, and feel no need to take care of yourself (including your physical appearance).

READ MORE: Secondary school boys praised for stopping suicidal woman from jumping off bridge

Spotting the signs in others

Spotting when someone else is thinking about suicide can be difficult. But, if you notice any of your loved ones exhibiting the following signs, then it might be time to step in:

  • They talk about feelings of hopelessness

  • They have sudden episodes of rage and anger

  • They act recklessly and take part in risky activities with no concern for the consequences

  • They say they feel trapped, and that they can't see their way out of their problems

  • They self-harm (this includes misusing drugs or alcohol)

  • They become increasingly withdrawn or appear anxious and agitated

The good news is that, according to Mind, the majority of people who have experienced suicidal feelings go on to live fulfilling lives if they get the support they need.

How you can help

If you do think you or someone close to you is experiencing any of these feelings or showing any of the above signs, there are many organisations that can give you the right advice and support.

If you’re worried about someone or feel like you could do with chatting to a trained, impartial professional, then do not hesitate to contact 1 of the below free helplines. Alternatively, contact your GP or call NHS 111 for an emergency appointment.


Call 116 123 any day, any time. If you prefer to express your feelings in writing, email Visit, for more information.

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

CALM is a resource for young men who are feeling unhappy. Call the helpline on 0800 58 58 58.


This voluntary organisation aims to support young people thinking about suicide and those who are concerned about a young person. Call 0800 068 41 41 or visit for more information.

One person commits suicide every 40 seconds according to new figures [Photo: Getty]
One person commits suicide every 40 seconds according to new figures [Photo: Getty]

READ MORE: Why is the suicide rate for young women at a 20 year high?

Tips for coping right now

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are some useful steps you can take to cope with them in the present.

Rethink suggest:

  • Just try to get through today rather than focusing on the future.

  • Talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust or an emotional helpline.

  • Contact a health professional such as your GP or Community Mental Health Team (CMHT).

  • Try to do activities you enjoy which take your mind off what you are thinking.

  • If you are in real danger of taking your own life call emergency services on 999 or go to Accident and Emergency (A&E).

Getting help in an emergency

If you don't feel you can keep yourself safe right now, Mind suggest seeking immediate help.

  • go to any hospital A&E department (sometimes known as the emergency department)

  • call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you can't get to A&E

  • ask someone else to contact 999 for you or take you to A&E immediately

If you need some support right now, but don't want to go to A&E, here are some other options for you to try:

Worried about someone else? See our pages on supporting someone else with suicidal feelings.

READ MORE: Radio DJ helps to save suicidal man’s life live on air

What to do if you’re worried about someone else

If you’re worried about someone, the best thing you can do is get them to open up to you. A problem shared really is a problem halved.

Samaritans suggest the following:

  • Often people want to talk, but wait until someone asks how they are. Try asking open questions, like ‘What happened about…’, ‘Tell me about…’, ‘How do you feel about…’

  • Repeat back what they say to show you understand, and ask more questions.

  • Focus on your friend’s feelings instead of trying to solve the problem – it can be of more help and shows you care.

  • Respect what they tell you. Sometimes it’s easy to want to try and fix a person’s problems, or give them advice. Let them make their own decisions.