It’s Good to Talk
Take a look at our WISETALKERS page to learn how to get people to open up about what is bothering them and give them the support they need. Helping someone in distress to talk it through with you will certainly make their day a bit better. It may also save a life.
(More information about early help can be found below)
Identifying someone at risk of suicide and what to do
The Zero Suicide Alliance have a great 30 minute free Online training Course Save a Life – Take the Training -giving practical advice on how to start the conversation. It may be all you need to know. Take the course yourself and encourage as many people as you can to do it too. Our Get Help page provides links to some key services.
Understanding more about suicide
The reasons someone may take their life are complex, very specific to that individual and not predictable. Information regarding how you may identify someone at increased risk of suicide can be useful but it is important to recognise that some people may not show these signs yet still be at risk. Things that appear minor (to you) may be really significant to another person, and a series of these “small” things may nudge people towards suicide risk. It depends on how that person perceives their situation and you cannot know unless they tell you, honestly.
There may be many reasons why the person wants to keep their personal crisis private and so will work hard at hiding their thoughts and feelings.
This short Owen Jones interview “Why do so many men die by suicide” gives one young man’s insight into the problems they face.
Supporting Someone Who Has (Or Has Had) Suicidal Thoughts
If you are concerned for any reason about someone you know please take them seriously, offer them support and give them the opportunity to talk with no judgement. Often you don’t have to make a grand gesture, just the offer of a film or takeaway or even just a hug. It is crucial that the person at risk realises he/she is loved, supported, and valued. In cases where this is not enough look at our Get Help page to get the right support.
If you are worried that someone is at risk of suicide:
- Ask them directly “Are you thinking of harming yourself/ taking your own life?” (It is scarey to ask but WON’T encourage them to take their life.)
- Find out if they have made plan and if so try to remove the means to carry it out.
- If they have already started to action their plan (eg taken tablets) or are at immediate risk, try to make sure they are not on their own, and call 999 or take him/her to A&E.
Supporting someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts can be challenging. Even if they are receiving help from Mental Health services they will still need your support. The suicide prevention charities listed above provide information to help you if you are worried about someone.
Helping Early Before Things Become Overwhelming
See our Get Help page to think through what might help someone.
Student Minds have a good resource covering most aspects of helping a friend, with general advice applicable from school age onwards. It also includes specific advice for university students from coping with Freshers week to leaving and looking for jobs. Plenty of information around helping friends with specific diagnoses.
The Mix also provide excellent advice and support for issues affecting young people.
Samaritans provide good information on how to prepare for these conversations (from providing a safe environment through to recognising your own needs) and some good example questions for checking out if they know how to get help.
Specific information for parents
Raising a family is one of the most important and rewarding parts of our lives. It can also be a source of anxiety, confusion and frustration when things aren’t running smoothly. Often parents put their own needs to one side to concentrate on their children but it is important to look after their own mental wellbeing too. Not only are their children more likely to pick up these good habits but it will also make it easier for the family to manage difficulties that arise.
The widely held belief that “you just know” how to be a good parent means that some early signs of problems may go unrecognised. There is a lot to be said for adopting a more proactive approach, whether to confirm you are doing all the right things or to identify and avoid the common pitfalls that may impact your children now or later in life.
Talking and listening to your child, encouraging them to understand and express their emotions from an early age is crucial to their future health and wellbeing. 10 minutes a day, where you are there just for that child doing an activity with them that they have chosen and enjoy, creates the security and space for proper communication to happen. It can be difficult to get this “us time” with teenagers but this is when they are likely to need it most. Look for innovative ways to keep communicating.
Parents now have access to more information that ever before but navigating the often conflicting advice in books, newspapers and online can add to the confusion. MindEd resources, developed by Department of Education in partnership with Health Education England, provide reliable and evidence based information to help parents understand and cope with a range of issues in all age groups. The approach is quite formal and there is a prompt to log in to the site but it is possible to progress through the sessions without this.
For a more informal approach, some suggestions are:
- The Aha!Parenting and The Child Development Institute (US) websites aim to promote positive parent child relationships and provide user friendly advice for age groups from birth to teens.
- This leaflet from Canadian organisation Beststart helps parents to understand resilience and how to start building it in young children.
- The American Psychological Association provides further information for parents on how to foster resilience in children at various stages of their lives.
If you are worried about Online Bullying PAPYRUS have put together this help and advice for Parents and Carers. Alternatively go to Bullying UK. Family Lives offers a confidential and free* helpline service (previously known as Parentline). Call 0808 800 2222 for information, advice, guidance and support on any aspect of parenting and family life, including bullying. Their helpline service is open 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday.
The Young Minds website has reliable information for parents and carers about common mental health and behaviour concerns in children and young people aged 0-25. Find out about symptoms, possible causes and what you can do to help, with links to further information, resources and other organisations you can contact for support.
Sheffield Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in association with Sheffield Childrens Hospital have put together the Epic Friends website in response to the fact that “12% of Sheffield secondary pupils say they feel very sad or depressed most days”. The Epic Friends website provides mental health information in a way that young people are likely to understand and relate to and may provide a good starting point.
Interchange Sheffield is a local charity supporting the emotional wellbeing of young people up to age 25 in Sheffield. Their website has useful information about mental health, local support and counseling services.