If you are worried that someone is suicidal, ask them. It could save their life.
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
- Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
(for young people, and their parents, whānau and friends)
- What's Up – 0800 942 8787
(for 5–18 year olds; 1 pm to 11 pm)
- The Lowdown – visit the website, email email@example.com or free text 5626 (emails and text messages will be responded to between 12 noon and 12 midnight)
- SPARX – an online self-help tool that teaches young people the key skills needed to help combat depression and anxiety
For help with specific issues
- Depression.org.nz – includes The Journal free online self-help tool
- Chinese Lifeline – 0800 888 880
(for people who speak Mandarin or Cantonese)
- OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE)
(for sexuality or gender identity issues; 9 am to 9 pm weekdays, and 6 pm to 8 pm weekends).
- Alcohol Drug Helpline – 0800 787 797
(for people dealing with an alcohol or other drug problem; 10 am to 10 pm)
- Women's Refuge Crisisline – 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
(for women living with violence, or in fear, in their relationship or family)
- Shakti Crisis Line – 0800 742 584
(for migrant or refugee women living with family violence)
- Rape Crisis – 0800 883 300
(for support after rape or sexual assault)
- PlunketLine – 0800 933 922
(support for new parents, including mothers experiencing postnatal depression)
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 Illness – 0800 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.