Suicide affects thousands of young people across the UK, with an average of over five young people taking their lives each day.

While some suicides occur without any obvious warning, often there are telling signs and early intervention can prevent many suicide deaths.

Suicide prevention starts with recognising the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend, family member or an acquaintance is suicidal, there are things you can do to help save a life.

Suicidal invitations

It’s important to remember warning signs and invitations are different for each person. It could be that a person in crisis might display a range of signs, while others might showcase just one or two. The following list of signs is not exhaustive; be guided by your instincts and if you’re worried, we’d encourage you to call our suicide prevention helpline, HOPELINE247, where our advisers can support you to start a conversation about suicide and explore options of how best to support your loved one.

Changes in mood or behaviour: If a person you know starts to experience sudden changes in their mood or behaviour, it could be a sign that they are struggling with suicidal thoughts. Some common signs of mood changes include depression, anxiety, irritability, and a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed.

Talks about death or suicide: When someone starts talking about death or suicide, it can be a clear indication that they are in crisis. They may talk about wanting to die, feeling hopeless, or feeling like they do not have a reason to live.

Substance abuse: Substance abuse is a common warning sign of suicide. People who are struggling with addiction may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with their feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Withdrawal from social activities: When someone withdraws from social activities and stops spending time with friends and family, it can be a sign that they are in distress. This type of isolation can be a trigger for suicidal thoughts.

Changes in sleep or eating patterns: Changes in sleep or eating patterns can also indicate that someone is in crisis. This could be displayed in the form of either much more or much less sleep than usual, or they may lose or gain weight rapidly.

How to help someone in crisis

Listen and validate their feelings: When someone is in crisis, it’s essential to listen to them and validate their feelings. Let them know that their thoughts and emotions are important and that you are there to support them.

Encourage them to seek professional help: If someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts, it’s important to encourage them to seek professional help. This could be in the form of therapy, counselling, or medication. As a concerned other, you can offer a supportive ear, however a professional will be able to provide valuable help to support long-term.

Be there for them: Offer to spend time with the person, go for a walk, or engage in activities they enjoy. Show them that they are not alone, and that you care about them.

Contact a suicide prevention helpline: If the person is in immediate danger, you should contact HOPELINE247, a suicide prevention helpline, or seek help from a local crisis centre. HOPELINE247 can offer concerned others confidential support and practical advice for how to help someone dealing with suicidal thoughts.

By recognising the warning signs of suicide and knowing how to help someone in crisis, you can make a positive impact on someone’s life. Remember that it is essential to be supportive, non-judgmental, and to encourage the person to seek professional help.

If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide and need a safe non-judgmental space to talk. PAPYRUS is here for you. Call HOPELINE247 for free, confidential advice and support on 0800 068 4141, text 88247 or email from 9am to midnight every day of the year.
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