Are you worried about somebody
On these pages we share some advice about what to do if you think someone you know isn't okay.
If you're worried that someone you know may be considering suicide, try to encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Many people assume that if you ask someone if they have suicidal thoughts, that you can put the idea into their head. This is a myth.
It isn't easy asking somebody if they are considering suicide. The zero suicide training can help you think about how to do this. For further information and how to access it click here . This training is free and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.
The reasons that people take their own lives are often very complex.
When someone is contemplating suicide, their words and actions can give you clues that they are at risk for hurting themselves.
On this page we talk about some of the warning signs to look out for.
High-risk warning signs
A person may be at high risk of attempting suicide if they:
- threaten to hurt or take their own life
- talk or write about death, dying or suicide
- actively look for ways to take their own life, such as stockpiling tablets
If someone you know is showing high risk warning signs, please visit contact our First Response Service by dialing 111, option 2. Further information about the service can be found here . If the person is acccessing our services we recommend sharing your concerns with a member of their care team.
Other signs that someone may not be okay
When someone is thinking about suicide, their words and actions can give you clues that they are at risk of hurting themselves.
The following can be suicide warning signs:
Talking about suicide – Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead.”
Looking for a way to end their life – Searching for a method or seeking access to medicines/ other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Preoccupation with death – Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence.
No hope for the future – Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped. Belief that things will never get better or change.
Self-loathing, self-hatred – Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden.
Getting affairs in order – Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
Saying goodbye – Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
Withdrawing from others – Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
Self-destructive behaviour – Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks.
You might not always be able to spot these signs, and these emotions show up differently in everyone.
Sudden sense of calm – A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.
If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.
Situations to look out for
It can also be useful to identify these situations that can trigger suicidal thoughts or make it hard for someone to cope.
- relationship and family problems
- loss, including loss of a friend or a family member through bereavement
- financial worries
- job-related stress
- college or study-related stress
- loneliness and isolation
- painful and/or disabling physical illness
- heavy use of or dependency on alcohol or other drugs
- thoughts of suicide
These may not apply to everyone who is struggling, but they can be useful to look out for.
Talking about suicide
Talking about suicide can be a scary subject. However, the more people are willing to talk with a friend or family member about suicidal thoughts, the more likely they can help someone take positive steps.
The Zero Suicide Alliance Training provides information on how to start this conversation and may help you to support somebody who you are worried about.
This stop suicide - just ask animation has been designed by the CPSL Mind Stop Suicide Campaign to guide anyone who is concerned that someone may be experiencing suicidal thoughts through the steps to keep that person safe. The animation is supported by additional training and resources on the CPSL Mind website.
When you are supporting somebody it is important to look after your self and your own wellbeing. The Five Ways to Wellbeing can help you think about how to do this. If you need to talk about how you are feeling, please call Samaritans on 116 123, or email on email@example.com, whenever you need.
What you can do
You may have a niggling feeling that someone you know or care about it isn't behaving as they normally would - they may seem out of sorts, more agitated or withdrawn than normal or just not themselves. Trust that gut instinct and act on it.
By starting a conversation and commenting on the changes you've noticed, you could help that family member, friend or workmate open up. If they say they are not okay, you can follow the conversation steps below to show them they're supported and help them find strategies to better manage the load. If they are okay, that person will know you're someone who cares enough to ask.
Talking about someone's problems is not always easy and it may be tempting to try to provide a solution. However, often the most important thing you can do to help is listen to what they have to say.
1. How to ask if they're ok
- Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach
- Help them open up by asking questions like 'how are you doing?', 'what's been happening?'
- Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them like, 'You see less chatty than usual. How are you?'
- If they don't want to talk, don't criticise them
- Avoid confrontation
- You could say 'please call me if you ever want to chat' or 'is there someone else you'd rather talk to?'
2. Listen without judgement
- Take what they say seriously and don't interrupt or rush the conversation
- Don't judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them
- If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence
- Encourage them to explain - "how are you feeling about that?" or "how long have you felt that way?"
- Show that you've listened by repeating back what you've heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly.
3. Encourage action
- Ask, "What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?"
- Ask, "How would you like me to support you?"
- Ask, "What's something you can do for yourself right now? Something that's enjoyable or relaxing"
- You could say "When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this…you might find it useful too?"
- If they've been feeling really down for more than two weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say, "It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I'm happy to help you find the right person to talk to."
- Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times.
4. Check in
- Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they're really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
- You could say, "I've been thinking of you and wanted to know how you've been going since we last chatted."
- Ask if they have found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven't done anything, don't judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
- Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.
Try not judge
It's important not to make judgements about how a person is thinking and behaving. You may feel that certain aspects of their thinking and behaviour are making their problems worse. For example, they may be drinking too much alcohol. However, pointing this out will not be particularly helpful to them.
Reassurance, respect and support can help someone during these difficult periods.
Getting professional help
Although talking to someone about their feelings can help them feel safe and secure, these feelings may not last. It will probably require long-term support to help someone overcome their suicidal thoughts.
This will most likely be easier with professional help. Not only can a professional help deal with the underlying issues behind someone's suicidal thoughts, they can also offer advice and support for yourself. We recommend speaking to your GP who can share advice and information about available support.
Resources and support
The aim of this page is to share information on groups and organisations who are able to provide advice and support around suicide and provide support for mental well being. It focuses on organisations who provide support within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and includes both national organisations and local organisations.
Support in a Crisis
If you or somebody else you know is experiencing a mental health crisis and lives in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough The First Response Service supports people experiencing a mental health crisis. It provides 24-hour, seven days a week, 365 days a year access to mental health care, advice and support. By calling 111, and selecting option 2, you will be put through to a member of First response service who will speak to you and discuss your current mental health needs. For further information about how to access urgent support for physical or mental health needs click here
Samaritans provide support 365 days and 24 hours per day. Access telephone support at 116 123.
Farming Community Network run a support line for members of the farming community.The line is run by people who understand the pressures of farming and rural life.
One Call Away is a listening and support service for the Gypsy,Roma and Traveller community. With the suicide rates being seven times higher than the settled community, One Call Away offers a 24 hour crisis line and welcomes calls from anyone within the Gyspy, Roma and Traveller community who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or any other mental health Issues. Please contact Caroline: 07748997617 or Mark 07393561735 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campaign against living miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and the cause of 18 deaths every day. CALM provides support 365 days per year.
Support for mental wellbeing
The Staff Mental Health Service is commissioned by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) to provide stepped-up mental health care for NHS staff. This is currently for anyone working at these NHS Trusts in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough:
- North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust (NWAFT)
- Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH)
- Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (RPH)
- Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust (CCS)
- Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT).
The Psychological Wellbeing Service supports people living in Cambrideshire and Peterborough, aged 17 and over who are experiencing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety disorders, including: generalised anxiety disorder (GAD); social anxiety; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); health anxiety; panic; phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, you do not need a diagnosis to access the service and we also see people with problems such as stress, low confidence, sleep disturbance and self-esteem issues. There is no upper age limit for people accessing our service and you can self referr to the service.
Centre 33 provides support for for young people up to the age of 25 with mental health needs for children and young adults up to the age of 25.
CPSL Mind provide support for people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who may be experiencing menta/ health challenges.
Mens Sheds are community spaces for men to connect, converse and create. The activities are often similar to those of garden sheds, but for groups of men to enjoy together. They help reduce loneliness and isolation, but most importantly, they’re fun. Within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough there are a number of mens sheds.
Campaign against living miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and the cause of 18 deaths every day. CALM provides support 365 days per year
Papyrus UK Suicide Prevention We exist to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by shattering the stigma around suicide and equipping young people and their communities with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.
On line suicide prevention resources
Online suicide prevention tools
Staying Safe provides a range of on line and downloadable resources to support people to stay safe and prevent suicides.
The Stay Alive app is a suicide prevention resource for the UK, packed full of useful information and tools to help you stay safe in crisis. You can use it if you are having thoughts of suicide or if you are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide. In addition to the resources, the app includes a safety plan, customisable reasons for living, and a LifeBox where you can store photos and memories that are important to you. Visit: www.prevent-suicide.org.uk/find-help-now/stay-alive-app
The Samaritians have created a self help app to provide a type of support that you can use without having to discuss your feelings with someone else. For further information about the app and how to access it click here
R;pple is an on line tool which aims to minimise the risks of the internet, while harnessing its potential for good.
On line safety: The Samartians produced some resources which focus on online safety. These can be found here .