What is Suicidality?

‘Suicidality’ is used to describe any suicidal thought or behaviour.

Why do people feel suicidal?

There is no single, simple explanation for why people feel suicidal. Every person will be different.

  • Experiencing depression and other mental health issues
  • Loss and Grief
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Overwhelming persistent emotions
  • Lack of belonging
But if they’re cutting, don’t they want to die?

Lots of people think that when young people self-injure they are trying to kill themselves.  But, actually, most of the time they don’t want to die.  Self-injuring is a way some young people cope with difficult emotions.

How can you tell if someone is thinking about suicide?

You can play an important role in identifying a young person at risk of suicide.  There are some warning signs that suggest something is going on, but the easiest way to find out is to ask.

Won’t asking put the idea in their head?

Talking directly about suicide is the best way to work out if the young person is at risk.  It shows you care and take them seriously and actually gives them permission to open up about how they are feeling.

Warning Signs

Warning signs suggest that a young person is at immediate risk of suicidality.  These can be behaviours that are ‘out of character’ or things that the young person says or does.

  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • Making plans or trying to access means
  • Isolating themselves and withdrawing from friends and family
  • Talking, writing or joking about death or suicide
  • Giving away possessions
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being a burden
  • Increased use of drugs and alcohol

What should you do if you are worried about someone being suicidal?

Let them know you are worried about them and are there to help

ASK them if they are thinking about suicide and if they have made any plans

  • Do you sometimes feel so bad that you think about suicide?
  • Do you think about dying, or wish you were dead?
  • Do you intend to act on these thoughts and take your life?
  • What has stopped you acting on these thoughts so far?

If they are thinking about it or have thought about it recently don’t hesitate to take action to get help.

  • Seek professional support from your GP, local mental health service, crises lines or emergency department.
  • Stay with them and remove any means of suicide available
  • Also refer to any plans you have been given or contact relevant supports provided by the agency you are working for
Don’t forget to take care of yourself too.

Click here to find out more about responding to suicidality.

Further Resources