Suicide is rarely a spur of the moment decision. In the days and hours before people kill themselves, there are usually clues and warning signs.

The strongest and most disturbing signs are verbal “ I can’t go on,” “ Nothing matters any more” or even “ I’m thinking of ending it all”. Such remarks should be taken seriously.

Other common warning signs include

– Becoming depressed or withdrawn

– Behaving recklessly

– Getting affairs in order and giving away valued possessions

– Showing a marked change in behaviour, attitudes or appearance

– Abusing drugs or alcohol

– Suffering a major loss or life change

The following list gives more examples, all of which can be signs that somebody is contemplating suicide. Of course, in most cases these situations do not lead to suicide. But, generally, the more signs a person displays, the higher risk of suicide.


– Family history of suicide or violence
– Sexual or physical abuse
– Death of a close friend or family member
– Divorce or separation, ending relationship
– Failing academic performance, impending exams, exam results
– Job loss, problems at work


– Crying
– Fighting
– Breaking the law
– Impulsiveness
– Self-mutilation
– Writing about death and suicide
– Previous suicidal behaviour
– Extremes in behaviour
– Changes in behaviour

Physical Changes

– Lack of energy
– Disturbed sleep patterns
– Loss of appetite
– Sudden weight gain or loss
– Increase in minor illnesses
– Change in sexual interest
– Sudden change in appearance
– Lack of interest in appearance

Thoughts and Emotions

– Thoughts of suicide
– Loneliness – lack of support from family or friends
– Rejection
– Deep sadness or guilt
– Unable to see beyond a narrow focus
– Daydreaming
– Anxiety and stress
– Helplessness
– Loss of self worth

Helping a suicidal friend of relative

Be quiet and listen!

If someone is feeling depressed or suicidal, our first response is to try to help. We offer advice, share our own experiences, and try to find solutions.

We’d do better to be quite and to listen. People who feel suicidal don’t want answers or solutions. They want a safe place to express their fears and anxieties, to be themselves.

Listening- really listening is not easy. We must control the urge to say something to make comment, add to a story or offer advice. We need to listen not just to the facts that the person is telling us but also to the feelings that lie behind them. We need to understand things from their perspective, not ours.

What do people who feel suicidal want?

– Someone to listen. Someone who will take time to really listen to them. Someone who will not judge or give advice or opinions, but will give their undivided attention

– Someone to trust. Someone who will respect them and won’t try to take charge. Someone who will treat everything with complete confidence.

– Someone to care. Someone who will make him or herself available put the person at ease and speak calmly. Someone who will re assure, accept and believe. Someone who will say, “ I care”.

What do people who feel suicidal not want?

TO BE ALONE. Rejection can make the problem seem ten times worse. Having someone to turn to makes all the difference. Just listen.

TO BE ADVISED. Lectures don’t help. Nor does the suggestion to “ cheer up”, or an easy assurance that everything will be ok. “Don’t analyse, compare, categorize or criticize. Just listen

TO BE INTEROGATED. Don’t change the subject, don’t pity or patronize. Talking about feelings is difficult. People who feel suicidal don’t want to be rushed or put on the defensive. Just listen.

National Numbers


Tel: 116 123

Confidential help/counselling over the telephone


Tel: 084477 9400/0161 236 81034

Young Person Helpline

free phone 0808-808-1677

Confidential help and support for the bereaved


Free phone 0808 800 1234

Information, practical advice and emotional support


Have a social work team who will offer support and advice


Free phone 0800-435-455

6pm –10pm daily


0845 123 2304

10AM – 6PM & 7PM – 10PM

Regional Numbers


Council – 01482 300300

Coroners – 01482 613009

Cruse –


Council – 01582 546000

Coroners – 0300 300 6557/6558

Cruse –


Council – 01942 244991

Coroners – 9942 705000

Cruse –