Supporting someone who is suicidal

If you’re supporting someone who is recovering after a crisis, be prepared to be there, offer support and stay involved. Recovery can take time.

You might need to be prepared to have difficult conversations about what’s going on in their life and how they are feeling. Keep listening to them and don’t avoid talking about suicide or the hard things in their life.

Don’t give up on them and try not to lose contact with them, even if it seems like they are ignoring you.

Help them feel there is hope of things getting better – identify positive things in their life.

If they don’t want to talk with you, ask other people you both trust to support them – friends, family or whānau members, youth workers or others.

Help them access professional help

Help them to access professional help, like a doctor or counsellor. You could offer to go with them or help them to make appointments.

Let them know about free counselling services like Lifeline and Youthline and give them the contact details.

Help them feel that things can get better

  • Encourage and support them to do the things they enjoy, keep physically active and connect with others.
  • Accept them for who they are and let them know you care.
  • When they're ready, support them to make plans for their future, solve problems and set goals.

Self-care

Remember to take care of yourself when you are caring for others – make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating properly and exercising.

Be kind to yourself, and take time out when you need to. Being in this situation can be very difficult, and you can’t do everything.

Find someone you can talk to about this – a friend or family member you trust, or a counsellor.

Know that it is not your fault if someone close to you attempts suicide.

Building a support network

It’s important to involve others to help you and the person you’re supporting – don’t try to do everything yourself.

To build a support network:

  • ask the person you're supporting to tell you what they need, what works for them and who should be involved
  • your support network might include cultural elders, spiritual leaders or community groups they're part of, as well as friends, family and whānau
  • bring the group together in a safe space
  • talk openly and honestly about the situation
  • talk to them about what they will do if they feel suicidal again, how they plan to keep safe, and how others can help with this
  • develop a plan together to support the person – identify how different people can help. Get professional help if you need it. Talk to your local doctor, medical centre, community mental health team or counselling service.

More information and support

For more information and support, talk to your local doctor, medical centre, hauora, community mental health team, school counsellor or counselling service.

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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