Suicide is a serious public health issue that affects individuals from all walks of life. The most recent stats from revealed there were over 5,500 suicides registered across England and Wales in 2021, – with 75% of those deaths being male. Suicide is preventable and creating a supportive network for those struggling with suicidal thoughts is a crucial step in suicide prevention.
In this blog, we’ll explore ways you can create a supportive network for those in need and ensure they feel understood and cared for.
Listen and understand
The first step in creating a supportive network is to actively listen to the person in need. It’s essential to try and understand their struggles and offer a non-judgmental ear, while you might not understand feelings of suicide personally, you can try to resonate with the factors that are causing them to feel this way. Try to be patient, show empathy and validate their feelings. Most important, let them know that they are not alone, and that you care.
Ask questions and offer help
Asking questions is a great and effective way to show that you care. Ask open-ended questions such as “how can I help?” or “what can I do to support you?”. These types of questions will give your friend or loved one an opportunity to express their feelings and needs and offer the space for them to open up about what they have been dealing with. If you’re not quite sure what to say, we’ve provided some advice for concerned others on how to start conversations about suicide, here. Offer help and support, such as connecting them with mental health resources or accompanying them to appointments, as this may give them the confidence to reach out externally and seek the professional help they need.
Be aware of suicidal invitations
It’s essential to be aware of signs that indicate someone may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. This includes changes in behaviour, mood swings, withdrawing from social activities, and expressing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness. If you notice someone suddenly displaying some of these symptoms and you suspect that someone may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, we’d encourage you to reach out and offer support. For more help understanding how to recognise the signs of suicide, read our blog, here.
Encourage professional help
Encouraging your friend or loved one to seek professional help is critical. There is only so much support you can offer as a concerned other, the individual will need professional help to help them work through their suicidal thoughts and form a long-term plan. You may want to point the person I need in the direction of a mental health professional, a support group, or a helpline, such as PAPYRUS’s suicide prevention helpline HOPELINE247. Our advisers are trained to help individuals with suicidal thoughts, and they can provide the person in need with the tools and resources they need to manage their feelings.
Create a safety plan with HOPELINE247
A safety plan is a written plan of action that individuals can use to manage their feelings when they are struggling with suicidal thoughts. The plan is unique to each person and includes steps to take when they are feeling overwhelmed, as well as a list of resources they can reach out to in times of crisis, support groups, or a mental health professional. Encourage them to share their safety plan with loved ones, so that they can receive the support they need when they need it. Our suicide prevention advisers on HOPELINE247 empower young people to create their own safety plans every day, via phone or webchat.
Check in regularly
Checking in with someone who has experienced suicidal thoughts regularly is essential to maintaining a supportive network. This can be as simple as sending a text message or making a phone call, or you can arrange to meet up with the person to ensure they’re not trying to withdraw themselves socially. Checking in is an opportunity to see how the individual is doing and offer support and encouragement, as well as give a better insight into the steps they’re continuing to take to reduce suicidal thoughts, such as continuing to speak with a health professional and actively speaking about their feelings.
Be there for the long haul
Creating a supportive network takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. The need for support doesn’t end now, your friend or loved one has opened up about their suicidal thoughts, it’s an ongoing process that will require patience. It’s essential to be there for the those in need for the long haul. Offer ongoing support, encouragement, and love, even when things are tough. Most importantly, make sure you’re looking after yourself. Supporting someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts can be emotionally taxing, and taking care of yourself is just as important as helping the other person. Self-care helps ensure that you have the emotional and physical resources to continue supporting your friend or loved on effectively and for the long term.
Creating a supportive network for individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts is a crucial step in suicide prevention. By listening, asking questions, being aware of suicidal invitations, encouraging professional help, creating a safety plan, checking in regularly, and being there for the long haul, you can make a difference in someone’s life.
Remember, suicide is preventable, and there is hope for those in need. If you or a young person you know you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, HOPELINE247 is here for you. Call 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039 967 or email firstname.lastname@example.org our advisers are here to support you from 9am until midnight every single day of the year.