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Victims who attempt to take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs through actions or words. People thinking about suicide are usually uncertain about acting on their thoughts to end their lives. Often, a part of them wants to be alive, and a part wants to die. This situation can overwhelm the victim. These signs should not be taken lightly when noticed. If you know someone who is exhibiting (some) warning signs above, kindly speak to that person by asking questions in a kind (non-judgemental) tone.

Kindly see some examples below on how you might ask the victim in a kind tone.

 You have not been cheerful lately, I am worried about you. What is troubling you?

 Ask the person if s/he is thinking about suicide.

 Take away sharp objects that might be used by the victim to self-harm.

 Be supportive and help the person seek help. Your prompt actions can save a life.

 Help the person connect to a support system. It could be family, friends, coaches, colleagues, doctor, or therapist.

 It is important you are careful with your use of words such that the person does not feel judged (which might cause the person to withdraw).

Such a statement that makes a person feel withdrawn includes: “You don’t know how fortunate you are”, “You are selfish for having that evil thought”, “You are weak” ETC. Avoid making these statements that make the individual get withdrawn. 

 Be there to listen. Let the person know you value him or her and want them to experience joy and happiness.

 Don’t let a positive response deter you from asking further. Don’t just ask “How are you?” and when the person responds “Fine!”, you are relaxed with the response. Instead, follow up with further questions if you know the person is not fine. (Refer to my previous post)

You might ask further; “You don’t seem like yourself lately” or “You have been distant”. If the person insists s/he is fine, let them know you will always be available to listen. When a person is exhibiting suicidal threats, they just want someone to listen to them without being judgemental. They need a chance to talk about their feelings and be heard. Be a friend/family/spouse that cares. You can encourage that person to seek a professional help. Having suicidal thoughts does not mean they will act on them. Do not agree to keep their suicidal thoughts a secret (it is harmful). Make them aware that it is not a secret and you intend to take the information seriously. Not alone, but with a professional help. If they do not want to talk to a professional therapist, help them find a support system such as; parents, friends, pastors, teachers, guardians, social groups. In rare cases, if they don’t wish to be involved in a support system, call an emergency.

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