Factsheet: Suicidal Thoughts

This factsheet is available in a downloadable PDF here. 


Table of Content

Spotting the Signs and How to Help
You can Help.  Be ALERT
helplines
After a Suicide

Spotting the Signs and How to Help

If you suspect someone may be feeling suicidal, ask them – it could save their life.

Most people thinking about suicide will try to let someone know.  There are several signs to watch out for.  Everyone is different so in some cases few or none of these signs are evident, however here are some fo the most common ones:

If someone you know:

  • Talks about wanting to die, not seeing the point or a way out of their situation
  • Has been through stressful life events or experienced significant losses and doesn’t seem to be coping
  • Gives away prized possessions
  • Starts putting things in order e.g. arranging wills, pet or childcare
  • Shows marked changes in behaviour, appearance or mood, they seem distracted, sad, distant or lacking concentration. Also watch out for sudden uplift in mood or calmness as this can sometimes be because the person feels they have found a solution to their problems, no matter how drastic this may be
  • Has made a previous suicide attempt

…they may be at risk of suicide.

You can Help.  Be ALERT:

Ask if they are thinking about suicide.

You may feel frightened to bring up the subject of suicide in case you think it will put the idea in their head.  This is not true.  Don’t hesitate to raise the subject.  Be direct in a caring and supportive way.

Listen and show you care.

Let the person talk about their feelings and listen carefully to what they have to say.  Don’t judge them and try and understand why they are feeling this way.  Let them know you care.

Encourage them to get help and support them to do so

Asking and listening are the first steps in developing a sense of hope.  Now is the time to move forward with this hope and get help to keep the person safe.  You may feel out of your depth to help the person, but there are people out there who can and you can put them in touch with someone who is qualified and able to help them.

Right now

If the person has an immeditae suicide plan and means to carry it out, do not leave them alone.  Get help immediately by phoning a doctor, 999, a local crisis support service (look in a phone book, Yellow Pages or Thomson Directory) or one of the helplines below.

Tell someone

Never promise secrecy.  Dealing with suicide can be difficult and you can’t do it alone.  Find someone to talk to about your own feelings.

 

If You or Someone You Know Need to Talk, Call the Following Helplines:

The Early Intervention Crisis Response Service (EICRS) 0131 663 5533 at the Orchard Centre is designed to offer face to face and telephone support with an experienced staff member for people with mental health difficulties, and their carers, when experiencing a crisis.

Samaritans: 0131 221 9999 – Samaritans are available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide.

Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87 (6pm – 2am) – Anyone can feel down or depressed from time to time. It helps to get some Breathing Space. You are not alone and talking about how you feel is a positive first step in getting help. So don’t let problems get out of hand, phone Breathing Space where experienced advisors will listen and provide information and advice.

Childline: 08001111 – Childline is the free national helpline for children and young people – No problem is too big or too small.

For more information on people to contact in a Crisis go to our Need Help Now page.

Staff with training will listen to, talk with and support the service user whether they have made contact in person or by phone. They may also offer the person information and support to access other specialised services depending on callers needs. There is an offer of a follow up and support time to help the person resolve any difficulties or issues. You need to be registered with the Orchard Centre. See EICRS details.

After a Suicide

SAMH have produced the ‘After a Suicide’ booklet to help those left behind when someone dies by suicide. It provides information about practical issues to deal with, common reactions to losing someone to suicide, and places where you can get help.

Related Services

Below are links to Services in the Edspace database that may be of interest:

External websites related to Suicidal Thoughts

These web sites may be useful. Please note that we are not responsible for external sites; if you find any broken links or inappropriate content please report it to the site administrators using the feedback page.

  • Childline
    24 hours a day, 7 days a week A free, confidential helpline for children and young people to talk about any problem. The website is also full of information and links. Remember, asking for help doesn't make you weak or attention-seeking. You deserve to be taken seriously, and it might be the first step towards a solution!
  • Choose Life

    Choose Life

    In 2002, the Scottish Executive launched Choose Life, a ten year strategy and action plan to reduce suicide in Scotland.

    Choose Life sets out a framework to ensure that action is taken nationally and locally to build skills, develop training, encourage people to seek help early, improve knowledge and awareness of 'what works' to prevent suicide, and to encourage partnership working and improved co-ordination between services.

    What is Choose Life doing in Edinburgh?

    Encouraging and supporting innovative local voluntary agencies, community-based and self-help initiatives which work towards suicide prevention in local neighbourhoods and communities. Choose Life also organises training for staff from a variety of settings such as hospitals and the City of Edinburgh Council as well as voluntary organisations.

    Choose Life funds four projects in Edinburgh; The Edinburgh Self Harm Project and three school based projects in the Oxgangs area, Wester Hailes and Pilton. For more information contact the Choose Life co-ordinator – contact details below.

  • Samaritans
    Samaritans provides confidential emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide. You don't have to be suicidal to call us. We are here for you if you're worried about something, feel upset or confused, or you just want to talk to someone.
  • Breathing Space
    Breathing Space is a confidential helpline for anyone in Scotland experiencing mental ill  health. It was launched in 2002, and became a national phoneline in 2004. Breathing Space is funded by the Scottish Government's Mental Health Unit. The service is operationally managed by NHS 24 and delivered from NHS 24 contact centres in Clydebank, Cardonald and South Queensferry. Breathing Space is a COSCA (Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland) recognised counselling skills organisation. 
  • NHS Lothian Site
    NHS Lothian Website

Phonelines Related to Suicidal Thoughts

  • Breathing Space

    0800 83 85 87

    A free, confidential phone line you can call when you're feeling down. They also have an excellent website which has loads of information and a self-help toolkit.

  • The Samaritans

    08457 90 90 90

    The Samaritans will not try to give you advice, judge you or tell you what to do, they will just listen and support you. They are there for anyone, especially those who are suicidal or in crisis.

  • Childline

    0800 1111

    24 hours a day, 7 days a week A free, confidential helpline for children and young people to talk about any problem. The website is also full of information and links. Remember, asking for help doesn't make you weak or attention-seeking. You deserve to be taken seriously, and it might be the first step towards a solution!

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