How do you talk to someone who may be suicidal?

It can be shocking to discover that someone you care about is thinking about suicide. You may find it hard to understand why they are feeling this way or how things got to this point. However, as a family member, friend or colleague, it’s important that you allow them to talk about it.


How to talk about suicidal thoughts with someone at risk

If you’re worried or concerned about someone’s emotional wellbeing, one of the best things you can do is talk to them about how they’re feeling. Yes, it can be a tough task, but the simple act of talking about it shows the person that you care — something that’s vitally important to someone in distress.


Start the conversation: talking about suicidal thoughts

People in distress need someone to talk to about suicidal thoughts. If you are that person, it should ideally be in a safe, private and quiet space where they can talk freely about their feelings.

You can open the conversation with a line like:

  • “I’ve noticed that you haven’t been yourself lately. Is everything OK?”
  • “I am worried about you. Can we talk about what’s troubling you?”
  • “I saw your post on Facebook. Do you need to talk?”
  • “You seem really sad lately. I’m worried that you may be thinking about suicide. Can we talk about this?”

It’s important that you make it abundantly clear to them that you are concerned about them, that you’re there to listen, and that you care about them. Let them really know that they can share their feelings and worries without interruption or judgment.


How to talk about suicide: follow up questions

When talking to someone who is suicidal, you can keep the conversation going with more questions, like:

  • “How can I support you now?”
  • “How long have you been feeling this way?”

You can also provide reassurance, with phrases like:

  • “I am here for you.”
  • “You are not alone.”
  • “I’m not you, so I cannot understand how you feel exactly, but I care about you and I’m here to help.”


Feeling suicidal and assessing the risk

If the person says that they are seriously thinking about suicide and have a plan to carry it out, you should seek professional help as soon as possible. Let them know that you’re concerned about their safety and cannot keep it a secret, because you care. Do not try to deal with the situation alone. You can call one of our counsellors at Suicide Line Victoria on 1300 651 251 for advice and support.

If the person is at immediate risk and may harm themselves or someone else, call 000.

If the risk level is low and the person does not wish to talk to a professional yet, work with them to identify other people who can look out for them and they can talk to.


If you are struggling and want to speak to a professional counsellor, SuicideLine Victoria is available 24/7. Call us on 1300 651 251.

If it is an emergency, call 000.