Coping with suicidal thoughts
After a suicide, it is understandable to feel concerned about the wellbeing of other family members, whānau and friends, or yourself. With the pain of loss so great, it is not uncommon for some people to think about suicide.
These thoughts may not last for long, or they may come and go often. However, there is an important difference between having suicidal thoughts and acting on them.
If you think someone is at risk:
- If you are worried that someone is suicidal, ask them. It could save their life.
- Asking about suicide in a supportive way will not put the thought in their head.
- Ask them directly about their thoughts of suicide and what they are planning. If they have a specific plan, they need help right away.
- Ask them if they would like to talk about what’s going on for them with you or someone else. They might not want to open up straight away, but letting them know you are there for them is a big help.
If you are concerned for yourself or others and would like more information and support, talk to:
- your doctor, medical centre staff, hauora, or primary health organisation (PHO)
- your local mental health team or hauora Māori mental health team
- a counselling service or school counsellor
- religious, cultural or community leaders
- a community worker or social worker
- a telephone counselling service. The getting ongoing help and support page has a list of services available which offer support, information and help.
You may find the following resources useful:
- Having Suicidal Thoughts? Information for you, and for family, whānau, friends and support network
- Tihei Mauri Ora: Supporting Whānau Through Suicidal Distress. For a free copy visit the Mental Health Foundation’s online shop.
If someone has attempted suicide or you’re worried about their immediate safety, do the following:
- Call your local mental health crisis assessment team or go with them to the emergency department (ED) at your nearest hospital.
- If they are an immediate physical danger to themselves or others, call 111.
- Stay with them until support arrives.
- Remove any obvious means of suicide they might use (e.g. guns, medication, car keys, knives, rope).
- Try to stay calm and let them know you care.
- Keep them talking: listen and ask questions without judging.
- Make sure you are safe.