Have they injured themself or taken an overdose? Are they at immediate risk of hurting themself or taking their life? Call 999 and ask for an ambulance, or, go to A&E.

For places to call and face-to-face support in an emotional crisis go to Need urgent help?

Spotting the signs that someone is having suicidal thoughts

It’s not always easy to know if someone is thinking about taking their life. Some signs can include:

  • talking about death and suicide
  • sounding very hopeless and preoccupied that everything is wrong and will not change or get better
  • expressing shame or guilt that everything is their ‘fault’
  • feeling worthless, self-loathing or a burden to other people
  • withdrawing from friends or relatives
  • behaving recklessly in ways that cause them harm, such as taking drugs and drinking more alcohol
  • looking for ways to take their life such as hoarding tablets
  • sorting out affairs – making a will, giving things away or saying goodbye
  • appearing unusually calm or happy after being very depressed

It’s also possible that someone can deliberately try to hide the signs that they are feeling suicidal. Or, without much warning, some people can find their emotions suddenly reach breaking point when life stresses become too much.

How you can help

  • If you’re worried that your friend might be having suicidal thoughts – don’t be worried to ask. Talking about it can make it less likely to happen, not more and it could come as a relief to be able to talk about it.
  • Don’t judge or be critical. Reassure them that these feelings will pass and they can find help.
  • If the person has had previous contact with Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust (LYPFT) – do they have a crisis/safety plan with contact details? If you’re unable to find the plan or call LYPFT’s Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0300 300 1485 (open 24 hours a day). It’s helpful if the person you are calling about knows you are calling and, if possible, would be willing to speak themselves.
  • If they tell you about a plan to hurt themselves, don’t ignore it. If you’re worried about their safety and the risk is immediate – don’t leave them and don’t let them leave you. Call a professional involved in their care such as a GP or their Care Co-ordinator, if you have a contact, if not call 999, and ask for an ambulance, or go to A&E.
  • Remain calm and sit with them in a safe place until help arrives. Remove anything that they could use to take their own life. Encourage them to ring a place for support if it would be easier to talk to a stranger. Stay with them until they have been seen by the mental health team.
  • If you aren’t with them – try to get to them: if you can’t and you’re very concerned – call the ambulance service and ask them about a welfare check.

Not sure what to do? Call NHS 111 (open 24 hours a day) when you need help urgently, but it’s not life threatening. A trained adviser will ask you a series of questions about the person you’re worried about and direct you to the best service to support their needs.

How are you feeling? Do you need emotional support?

It can be very upsetting and distressing to support someone who feels suicidal – it’s important to be kind to yourself and consider your own wellbeing needs as well. Find some self-care strategies and ways to take care of yourself.

Carers Leeds is the organisation that supports unpaid carers in Leeds. Are you helping a friend or family member due to their illness, disability, mental health issue or a substance misuse problem?

Yes? Then you are one of 72,000 unpaid carers in Leeds. And Carers Leeds is here to support you.

Carers Leeds run a support group for people caring for friends or relatives who are experiencing mental health difficulties.

For places you can call for emotional support go to Need urgent help?