World Suicide Prevention Day


World Suicide Prevention Day promotes the importance of having open conversations around suicide and suicidal thoughts.  Sadly, globally somebody dies by suicide every 40 seconds , and increasing awareness of suicide is an important way we can all play a part in suicide prevention.

As a Mental Health First Aider, I am grateful that suicide was openly discussed in my training. Suicide can be a topic people shy away from discussing. This is mainly due to a fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. You may struggle to start the conversation or worry that by discussing suicide you are encouraging the person to act on their thoughts. This simply isn’t true, it is safer to ask about suicide than not to ask about suicide.  If you can learn to spot early warning signs, talk more openly about suicidal thoughts and direct people to help, you have the potential to save lives. 

1) How will you know if a person is feeling suicidal?

Talk to the person. Be aware that some individuals may work very hard to hide their thoughts or feelings however you might detect early warning signs in changes to their behaviour. This can be a new behaviour or an increase or reduction in behaviour.

The organisation Calm The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) offer some warning signs that may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide:

  • Unexpected mood changes – including suddenly being calm and happy after being very depressed
  • Social withdrawal
  • Change in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Lack of energy
  • Neglect of personal appearance
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Increased drug or alcohol abuse
  • Anger or irritability
  • Talking about suicide or wanting to die– their statements may be vague or appear to be joking about it
  • Giving away possessions
  • Saying goodbye – to friends and family as if they won’t be seeing them again.

2) Trust your gut and act.

If you have any concerns that someone is considering suicide, you should act.  It is more important to show you care than your choice of words.  Tell the person you are concerned about them, give them the opportunity to explore how they are feeling. LISTEN and ask them directly:

  • ‘Are you having thoughts of suicide? ‘Are you thinking about taking your own life?’
  • Do you have a suicide plan and the means to carry out your plan?

Listen. It takes a lot of courage to open up and share. You might not agree with or understand an individual’s thoughts, but it is important to not express negative reactions, debate their reasons or try to diagnosis any mental illness. Just offer reassurance that these feelings will not last forever, and help is available to them.

3) Get help.

A person who is suicidal should not be left alone. If you believe there is an immediate risk to life you can 

  • Call their GP surgery.
  • Call 999 
  • Take them to A&E and stay with them until they are seen. 

Encourage the person to get professional help as soon as possible. There are lots of confidential helplines and sources of support available and an individual may find it easier to talk to a stranger than confide in friends or loved ones.


0800 58 58 58

Helpline & web chat available 5pm to midnight every day


116 123 (24 hours)


0300 123 3393 (Mon – Fri 9am – 6pm)


Prevention of Young Suicide up to age of 35

0800 068 41 41 ( 9am–12am (midnight) every day of the year)

Grass Roots

Provides StayAlive app for those at risk of suicide or worried about someone.

Release the Pressure (Kent)

Free, confidential 24-hour service. 

Text the word Kent to 85258 or phone 0800 107 0160 for free confidential support at any time.

World Suicide Prevention Day’s message is “Creating Hope Through Action”.   By openly discussing suicide through blogs, campaigns, resources, conversations at work or at home we can all play a part in raising awareness and removing the stigma that surrounds this complex subject.  

If you are struggling and feel you require some support or advice, you can visit our Wellbeing Hub which contains an abundance of free resources and articles. To find out more about Mental Health First Aid Training please email

Comments are closed