If you’re worried someone may be suicidal

If you are worried that someone is suicidal, ask them. It could save their life.

If they need urgent help

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.
  • Remain with them and help them to stay safe until support arrives.
  • Try to stay calm and let them know you care.
  • Keep them talking: listen and ask questions without judging.

If you think someone is at risk

Ask them – it could save their life

Asking about suicide 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.

Listen and don’t judge. Take them seriously and let them know you care.

Help them find support

Help them to find and access the support they need from people they trust: friends, family, spiritual, community or cultural leaders, or professionals.

Don't leave them alone – make sure someone stays with them until they get help.

Support them to access professional help, like a doctor or counsellor, as soon as possible. Offer to help them make an appointment, and go with them if you can.

If they don't get the help they need the first time, keep trying. Ask them if they would like your help explaining what they need to a professional.

How to be supportive

Be gentle and compassionate with them. Don't judge them – even if you can't understand why they are feeling this way, accept that they are.

Try to stay calm, positive and hopeful that things can get better.

You don't need to have all the answers, or to offer advice. The best thing you can do is be there to really listen to them.

Let them talk about their thoughts of suicide – avoiding the topic does not help. Ask them if they've felt this way before, and what they did to cope or get through it. They might already know what could help them.

Do not agree to keep secrets about their suicidal thoughts or plans. It's okay to tell someone else so that you can keep them safe.

Don't pressure them to talk to you. They might not want to talk, or they might feel more comfortable talking to someone who is not as close to them.

Don't try to handle the situation by yourself. Seek support from professionals, and from other people they trust including family, whānau or friends.

Services that offer more information and support

Below is a list of some of the telephone helplines or services available which offer support, information and help. All services are free, and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless otherwise stated.

For counselling and support

For children and young people

For help with specific issues

For families, whānau, friends and supporters

  • Skylight 0800 299 100
    (for support through trauma, loss and grief; 9 am to 5 pm weekdays)
  • Supporting Families In Mental Illness0800 732 825
    (for families and whānau supporting a loved one who has a mental illness)
  • Common Ground – a central hub providing parents, family, whānau and friends with access to information, tools and support to help a young person who’s struggling
  • Mental Health Foundation – for more information about supporting someone in distress, looking after your mental health and working towards recovery

Find out more from the Ministry

Go to Suicide prevention to find out what the Ministry and health sector are doing to help prevent suicide in New Zealand.

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