Reaching out to someone in need
Sometimes people who are finding it hard to cope can be caught in a spiral of negative thinking. Just knowing there's someone who cares, and is prepared to listen, can make a huge difference.
Is there anything I can do to prepare for the conversation?
To prepare for the conversation, it's helpful to remember that you're not trying to solve someone's problems. Your role is to listen or direct them to somewhere they can get support. Try to be sensitive, compassionate and respectful.
How can I start the conversation?
It can be daunting starting a conversation with someone who's struggling to cope. Remember you don't need to have all the answers. Listening and showing you care can make a huge difference. Read more on how to start a difficult conversation.
If I mention suicide or self-harm, will that put the idea into their head?
No. If you're gentle and calm, it's ok to bring up the subject. There's no evidence that asking someone about self-harm or suicide 'plants' the idea in their head. Most people feel relieved and welcome the chance to talk about suicidal feelings or self-harm.
What help can I suggest?
If they are having a tough time coping, you can suggest that they contact Samaritans. Our volunteers are everyday people who are trained to listen. We offer time and a private space so that people can work through their issues and we're available by telephone, email and in person. Alternatively, they can talk to their GP, a counsellor or call NHS111 in the UK.
Don't I need training to have this conversation?
It can be difficult to have this conversation but it's worth remembering that you are reaching out to someone and showing that you care. You can then suggest that they contact a counsellor or trained professional.
Having someone else's worries or problems can affect you too and it's important that you look after your own wellbeing. Make time for yourself so you can do the things you enjoy and if you need to talk, find somebody you can trust and confide in them. If you want to talk to someone in confidence, you can contact Samaritans and we will keep it private.