This content mentions suicide or suicidal thoughts. Please read with care. There are details of where to find help at the bottom of this page.
Talking about suicide
There are things we can do if we're worried someone may be at risk of suicide. One thing that can really make a difference is talking. Remember, it's ok to ask someone if they're feeling suicidal, it could save their life.
Read our advice on how to talk to someone about suicide and help them get the right support.
What are the signs that someone may be feeling suicidal?
It’s important to watch out for signs of distress and changes in behaviour. If you know someone well, you can often tell if they are behaving in a way that may indicate serious distress. For example, they may be withdrawn, appear unusually dishevelled or change how they make financial or personal plans.
Can I ask someone if they’re feeling suicidal?
There is evidence that shows if you ask someone if they're suicidal, it can help protect them.1It’s ok to ask someone, "are you having suicidal thoughts?". By asking directly about suicide, you give them permission to tell you how they feel and let them know they are not a burden.
What can I do if someone tells me they’re having suicidal thoughts?
If someone does tell you they are having suicidal thoughts, always take them seriously. Try to listen in an unhurried way without distractions. You don't have to be able to solve their problems. The act of listening and being understanding will help. If you can, offer support and encourage them to talk about their feelings.
If you can, arrange to speak to them again at a specific time. This will show your ongoing support and will make them feel valued. It also gives them something to look forward to.
How can I be there for someone who’s feeling suicidal?
Simple actions can help you be there for someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts or recovering from an attempt to take their own life. People who have felt suicidal will often say what a huge relief it was to be able to talk about what they were experiencing.
If someone is feeling suicidal, can I suggest they talk to a professional?
It’s important to encourage them to seek professional support and know when to step back to look after themselves.
If you are feeling like ending your life or feel unable to keep yourself safe, please call 999 or go to A&E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress. If you feel affected by the content you have read, please see our get help page for support.
Taylor's story: raising awareness after my brother took his own life
My name is Taylor Kane McLaughlin and, since 21 November 2017, I have been doing everything I can to get my life back on track.
Preventing suicide: Supporting those who don't reach out directly for help
MHF CEO Mark Rowland talks about the tragic suicide of his older brother, and how he believes with early intervention, it could have been prevented.
A-Z Topic: Suicidal thoughts
If you’re feeling suicidal, you’re not alone: one in five of us think about suicide in our lifetimes. Remember that these feelings won’t last. There is help available to keep you safe now and to help with the problems that may be causing your suicidal feelings.
Publication: Support for those bereaved by suicide
This qualitative research report explores current levels of support across Scotland for people who are bereaved by suicide.