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How do you talk about suicide?

Suicide can be a very difficult and uncomfortable topic for people to talk about. Below are some ways to help get the conversation started.

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If you are in crisis right now call the BC Suicide Help Line 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Suicide can be a very difficult and uncomfortable topic for people to talk about. It’s important to talk in an open and straightforward way about suicide, and to avoid being judgmental or glamourizing it.

If you think someone you know is considering suicide:

  • Talk to them. Find a good time and place to talk to your friend. Let them know you are worried about them, you care about them and you are there to support them.
    • Ask open-ended questions to help them talk about what’s going on for them, such as “I’ve noticed you are feeling sad quite a bit. Can we talk about what’s going on?
  • Ask about suicide directly. Ask them directly if they are thinking of suicide or if they have a plan for how they would kill themself. Know that asking them about suicide won’t give them the idea to kill themselves.
    • “You seem really down and I heard you say you wish you were dead. Sometimes when people are feeling this way, they are thinking of suicide. Are you thinking about suicide?”
  • Never promise to keep a suicide plan a secret. Let your friend know you are there for them and you care about them but if you are concerned about their safety you will have to talk to someone.
  • Encourage them to talk to someone. They can reach out to a family member, school counsellor or mental health professional. You can also call the BC Suicide Help Line 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) with your friend or if you need help.
    • “I’m glad we are talking about this. Let’s look together for someone that can help.”
  • Don’t leave someone alone if you feel that they might kill themself or if they have already tried to do so. Call 911 or the BC Suicide Help Line 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
  • Make sure they have the support of a trusted adult. It’s extremely important that you do not try and be the only support for a friend. If they don’t want to talk to someone, tell them it is too important and that you need to find someone together who can help. If you are unable to find support call the BC Suicide Help Line 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) with your friend or if you need help.
  • Continue to reach out to your friend, if possible, and keep doing the things you enjoy together.
  • You shouldn’t deal with this on your own. You can also reach out to a trusted adult or the BC Suicide Help Line 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) for help and support.

This chart breaks down language to use when talking about suicide.