Updated: Apr 25
It can come as a massive shock when a loved one, friend or even a stranger tells you that they are feeling suicidal.
It may have left you feeling confused about what to do or how to help them - but please rest assured there are services and resources available and we will help guide you through them.
Firstly - it is of utmost importance that you take the person seriously. It is a myth that people who talk about suicide are only looking for attention. If an individual has built up the courage to speak with you about ending their own life, they are serious about it.
Be patient, kind and reassuring and help to usher them through what is one of the lowest points of their life.
There are a number of services available that you can help refer them to including us.
At Talk To Tom we like to refer to the QPR method of suicide intervention and prevention. QPR is a US based principle by the QPR Institute brought to Ireland for the first time by Talk To Tom.
It stands for Question, Persuade and Respond. It can be applied for use with someone you know is facing a suicidal crisis or for someone you suspect might be thinking of ending their life.
The First Step: QUESTION:
Tips for asking the suicide question:
If in doubt, don’t wait, ask the question
If the person is reluctant, be persistent
Talk to the person alone in a private setting
Allow the person to talk freely
Give yourself plenty of time
Have your resources handy; phone numbers, counsellor’s name and any other information that might help
The Less Direct Approach: Ask questions such as ...
“Have you been unhappy lately?”
“Have you been very unhappy lately?”
“Have you been so very unhappy lately that you’ve been thinking about ending your life?”
“Do you ever wish you could go to sleep and never wake up?”
Direct Approach: Ask questions such as ...
“You know, when people are as upset as you seem to be, they sometimes wish they were dead. I’m wondering if you’re feeling that way, too?”
“You look pretty down, I wonder if you’re thinking about suicide?”
“Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
How NOT to ask the suicide question:
“You’re not thinking of killing yourself, are you?”
“You wouldn’t do anything stupid would you?”
“Suicide is a dumb idea. Surely you’re not thinking about suicide?”
Step 2 - PERSUADE - How to Persuade a person to stay alive:
Listen to the problem and give them your full attention
Remember, suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived insolvable problem
Do not rush to judgment
Offer hope in any form, reassure them, be kind
“Will you go with me to get help?”
“Will you let me help you get help?”
“Will you promise me not to kill yourself until we’ve found some help?”
Step Three - Refer - How To Refer Someone To Get The Help They Need
Suicidal people often believe they cannot be helped, so you may have to do more.
You can ask their permission to call us here at Talk To Tom and make an appointment. We will see them as soon as possible – and you can even bring them to our Clinical centre on St Michaels Rd, Gorey. Our service is totally free. We also offer support and advice to friends and family.
The best referral involves taking the person directly to someone who can help.
The next best referral is getting a commitment from them to accept help, then making the arrangements to get that help.
The third best referral is to give referral information and try to get a good faith commitment not to attempt suicide. Any willingness to accept help at some time, even if in the future, is a good outcome.
For Effective QPR Intervention Remember:
Say: “I want you to live,” or “I’m on your side...we’ll get through this.”
Get Others Involved. Ask the person who else might help. Family? Friends? Brothers? Sisters? Pastors? Priest? Imam? Rabbi? Bishop? Physician?
Follow up with a visit, a phone call or a card, and in whatever way feels comfortable to you, let the person know you care about what happens to them. Caring may save a life.
If you feel the person is an immediate danger to themselves please contact the emergency services on 999 or Caredoc 1850 334 999.
If a person has contact you via phone, or text and informed you that they intended to end their life and you can no longer reach them - it is important that you reach out to the emergency services.
It is important to remember your own well-being at this time too. Hearing news that a friend or loved one has been experiencing suicidal ideation’s is scary. If you need to talk to someone following the event - you can contact us individually also.
If you need further support remember to let us help you here at Talk To Tom. We can be your guide - contact us on (0818) 303061or via Whats App. To launch a chat now click here. You can find out more about our counselling service here.
Other services you where you can reach someone to talk to are:
Samaritans offers a 24 hour listening service over text message, text 'Hello' to 087 260 9090 to get started (standard text messaging rates apply) or call 116 123 to talk to someone over the phone.
Childline text and instant messaging services are available from 10am - 4am every day to young people under 18, text 'Talk' to 50101 to talk to a trained counsellor by text message or call 1800 66 66 66.
Visit Your GP:
We always recommend that you visit your GP. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed. Your doctor is a professional health care provider and will be familiar with how you are feeling. Your mental health is just that - your health. You would visit your GP if you had been feeling physically unwell right ? Your emotional health is just as important as your physical well-being - in fact the two go hand in hand. If you don’t have a current GP you can find a list of services in your area here. You can also contact the CareDoc service on 1850 334 999