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Learning How to Talk About Suicide: Tips from Mental Health Professionals


Talking about suicide isn’t easy, but these tips will help you approach the subject in an informed and sensitive manner.

Suicide has been a frequent topic in the news lately, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to talk about the subject. There are a lot of emotions surrounding the word “suicide” that make it hard to discuss, but the fact of the matter is that we need to be clear and honest with each other with suicide and mental health in general. Talking about suicide isn’t easy, but these tips will help you approach the subject in an informed and sensitive manner.

Stay Informed

Suicide doesn’t always involve active thoughts about taking one’s life. In fact, suicidal thoughts can be passive. From thinking that you’d simply like to check out of your life for a while or having the desire to shut down and go to sleep, these thoughts can eventually lead to suicidal actions. The most common causes of suicide include depression and substance abuse, but having any other health condition can increase the risk as well.

Show That You Care

Building up the confidence to talk about something that is such a deeply sensitive subject can be difficult. Remember to come from the position as a friend who truly cares about the well-being of the person in question. Building up to the topic of suicide is crucial, as you don’t want to immediately ask about something that will cause him or her to shut down. First, ask about their general mental health. Ask about their mood, sleeping habits, and irritability. Next, move toward questions about anxieties and fears this person may have. From here, you can ease into a discussion about suicide, rather than approaching it brashly.

Know What to Look For

Before confronting this topic, you should also be acutely aware of suicidal signs and symptoms. Look for a loss of pleasure, giving away one’s personal possessions, and joking about suicide and referencing “when I’m gone.” Listen for this person saying things like that people would be better off without them. Look for increased drug or alcohol use as well as changes in sleeping habits.

Difficult But Necessary

While suicide is not easy to talk about, it is something that we should talk about. This is especially true if you’re fearful that a friend or loved one is experiencing depression. Even the slightest signs of depression can lead to a person taking his or her own life. Simply asking about it and opening up the conversation will never hurt the person you’re trying to help.

Welcome to Family Service Foundation, Inc.!

Family Service Foundation, Inc. has been serving the greater Maryland area since 1936. This nonprofit organization helps residents in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Frederick County, and Prince George’s County across a span of different areas such as mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse. We also provide interpretation services for deaf and deaf-blind individuals. To learn more, call us at 240-241-7249 or visit here.