Mental Health and Suicide

It Affects Us All

Suicide is the most serious crisis associated with Mental Ill Health, we need to consider this as the highest priority, when we discuss mental health conditions in the workplace and in society. The exact cause of suicide is complex but there are signs and symptoms we can spot.

Social distancing affects everyone differently be aware of how it affects yourself and others in your community.

Photo with thanks to Julia Mourao Missagia – Pexels

Depression is linked to suicide but not all people who  are depressed consider suicide. In many instances it is only when we talk to someone who is showing some sign of mental health condition that we discover the thoughts of suicide and the extent of the condition. The seriousness of the topic may make you want to shy away from it but please do not. There is no need to fear of doing something wrong or thinking there is nothing you can do. You can make a difference

Approaching someone who is suicidal or displays signs of suicide

Ensure your own personal safety, do not get involved physically with the person. Be aware of your own attitude and beliefs about suicide and the impact it can have on helping someone. They may be from a different culture to you and have different beliefs about suicide.

Be calm and patient, listen without interruption or expressing your opinions or solutions. Ask open ended questions to engage in a dialogue, remember the person is trying to cope. Show that you are listening by summarising what they have said and giving them feedback. Ask if you have understood what  they have said after the summary.

Avoid feeling panic or shock when they disclose their thoughts, issues, or suicidal plan. Avoid any negative reactions . Do your best to appear calm confident and empathetic in the face of the suicidal crisis.

Suicidal thoughts and expressions affect us all as they are a cry for help – step up and make a difference and stop suicide completion

Establishing Where They are At

Act promptly if you see any of the warning signs and symptoms listed here or on the websites about suicide. If you are unable to talk to them find someone who can. Call a helpline if necessary. Tell the person you are concerned about them, describing their behaviours you have noticed. They may not want to talk to you, so be patient. Listen non judgementally, give them your full attention.

If a person says that they are hearing voices, ask what the voices are saying and telling them to do. The highest risk of a person completing suicide are those who have a

  • Plan
  • Means
  • Time Set
  • Intention

Be sure to identify where they are at this stage.

Photo with thanks to Dollar Gill – Unsplash

Engage With Them – Listen Non Judgmentally

Try and discover if there are any previous attempts in the past. People who have attempted this in the past are at high risk to  complete suicide. Ask if anyone in their family or friends have every considered or attempted suicide. Ask if they are on any medication currently or if they have treatment plan or undergoing any therapy at present.

Engage them in a serious discussion, not trivial things, ask them how they are feeling, what are they thinking, What has happened to them, How did they get to this point, let them describe these to you. it is important to get them to talk about what is happening to them at the minute. Thank the person for sharing their feelings and being honest and open.

Photo with thanks to Brett Sayles – Pexels

Help on Hand – You Are Not Alone

Before we go further with Facts and Myths of Suicide, and Signs and Symptoms here are some resources to call if you are in this situation or are helping someone deal with suicidal thoughts.

CALM – Email: Tel: 0800 58 58 58 Website: http://www.the Call Emergency 999 or take the person to A&E. Call Samritans 116 123 email Contact their GP. Call Supportline 01708 765200 or your local NHS support line. Papyrys Call: 0800 068 41 41, Text 078 6003 9967 Email:

Keep Them Safe

It is important to keep the person safe once you have established they are at risk of suicide completion. They  should not be left alone. Work in partnership with them to ensure their safety rather than implementing your safety plan. The fact that you are talking to them about their feelings means they are not sure about completing suicide.

Remind them that suicidal thoughts are common, but we do not need to  act on them. Focus on the things that will keep them safe for now. Involve the suicidal person in  what you are deciding to  do to help and support them. Be clear outlining what will be done, who will be doing it and when it will be done. Focus on the positive aspects.

Remember feelings are temporary, they  come and go, and you can learn how to  cope with life’s stresses by gaining a new perspective.

Encourage them to writing what they feel, expressing themselves, phoning a friend, finding and activity that will distract them, exercise and our section about  help them to help themselves. There are no one plan fits all or a solution that can be applied for all situations. Trust yourself, encourage them to  seek professional help. Provide them support group details, charities, and organisations like Samaritans, NHS, Talking Therapies etc.


Facts and Myths

The list below is not exhaustive, but we have selected these 6 Myths as the more common ones that you could be exposed to.

Myth 1 – It is dangerous to ask a depressed person if they are considering suicide. Fact – You  may be afraid of approaching the subject with a vulnerable person for fear of mentioning it could inspire them to harm themselves. The reality is those struggling with depression may be relieved to have the opportunity to share their disturbing thoughts. You should ask them if they plan to harm themselves  and how.  

Myth 2 – Once a person is seriously considering suicide there is nothing you  can do. Fact – Most suicidal crises are time limited and based on unclear thinking or limited beliefs. People considering suicide want to escape their problems. People who have suicidal thoughts can recover and go on to lead fruitful and whole lives.

Myth 3 – If a person really wants to  kill themselves no one has the right to stop them or interfere. Fact – Just because suicide implies voluntary action it does not mean that the person wants to  die. They just want to escape the issues and pain. Death is not the only answer.

Photo with thanks to Andrea Piacquadio – Pexels

Myth 4 – People take their lives –“out of the blue”. Fact – There are almost always warning signs, including telling others they  want their lives to end, giving away their possessions, dramatic mood swings, abusing substances, withdrawing from society, and behaving recklessly or aggressively.  

Myth 5 – Only people with mental health conditions are suicidal. Fact – Suicidal behaviour indicates a deep unhappiness and not necessarily a mental condition. Many people living with mental conditions are not affected by suicidal behaviour and not all people who take their own lives have a mental disorder.  

Myth 6 – Talking about suicide is a bad idea and can be interpreted as encouragement. Fact – Given the widespread stigma around suicide, most people who are contemplating suicide do not know who to speak to. Rather than encouraging suicidal behaviour talking openly can give an individual other options or the time to rethink their decision thereby  preventing suicide.  

Photo with thanks to Christophe Hautier – Unsplash

Signs and Symptoms

  • Any of the signs covered in our Mental Health in the Workplace- For Managers, on  Depression, Phobias, Psychosis.
  • Excessive sadness or moodiness: Long-lasting sadness, mood swings, and unexpected rage. Feeling trapped in  a situation.
  • Hopelessness: Feeling a deep sense of hopelessness about the future, with little expectation that circumstances can improve. No  reason for living, no sense of purpose in life.
  • Sudden unexplained recovery: Suddenly becoming calm after a period of depression or moodiness can be a sign that the person has made a decision to end his or her life.
  • Withdrawal: Choosing to be alone and avoiding friends or social activities also are possible symptoms of depression, a leading cause of suicide. This includes the loss of interest or pleasure in activities the person previously enjoyed.
  • Changes in personality and/or appearance: A person who is considering suicide might exhibit a change in attitude or behaviour, such as speaking or moving with unusual speed or slowness. In addition, the person might suddenly become less concerned about his or her personal appearance.
  • Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there is no other logical explanation for doing this.
  • Talking about dying or wanting to die, Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no way out of problems, Mentioning strong feelings of guilt and shame, Talking about not having a reason to live or that others would be better off without them, Social withdrawal and isolation, Giving away personal items and wrapping up loose ends, Saying goodbye to friends and family.

Thank you for taking the time and interest to help save someone’s Life and Make a Difference in our World.

Get In Touch

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or want more information on this condition, you can call the Resources listed on this page or contact us.

With thanks to MHFA