Helping Someone To Reconsider Suicide

Helping Someone To Reconsider Suicide



Helping Someone To Reconsider Suicide – World Suicide Prevention Day is observed worldwide on the 10th of September every year. This initiative was started with an intention to increase the awareness of suicide among individuals and to encourage the implementation of preventive measures.

Helping Someone To Reconsider Suicide

Talking about suicide has been extremely sensitive for many, where even mental health professionals think twice before taking it up. On the other hand, we can also see a rise in individuals who think people contemplate suicide only to seek attention.

While the latter needs to be educated on the risks of suicidal ideations, more and more people need to be trained to be able to effectively handle individuals contemplating suicide.

Suicide is viewed as the ultimate coping measure to the problems of an individual contemplating it. We have to understand that the individual feels no other way to it simply because of the severity of mental distress that she/he is going through. This severe mental distress of the individual contributes to their cognitions going haywire, and thus, contemplating suicide.

As someone who would like to help, it is our responsibility to acknowledge the pain that the individual is going through, as well as subtly try to activate the rational thinking capacity of the individual at risk.

While talking to an individual who is at suicidal risk, it is of utmost importance to assess for their risk of suicide by asking about previous attempts and by checking for the presence of a ‘suicide plan’.

Remember to keep a strong check on your language while talking to them, actively listen to them, and stay empathetic without trying to tell that you understand how they feel, because you genuinely don’t.

After establishing rapport, grounding and having listened to the individual who is at risk, you can try to subtly ask the following questions which will help evoke their rational thinking capacity:

  • How come you have handled these suicidal thoughts so far?
  • What has kept you going till now to continue living?
  • Who would grieve the most if you die? What do you think they will tell you if they knew you were going to die?
  • If suicide was not an available option, what else do you think you could do?
  • Imagine that you did die. You are now looking at your lifeless body from a distance of 10 feet at your own funeral. You can see your loved ones grieving around your lifeless body. Do you think you could’ve done anything else apart from this?

It is not necessary that one needs to ask all these questions, in the same order or wording. What we are trying to do by asking these questions is to subtly make the person think and to activate their problem-solving cognitions. Providing mental imagery in your questions would be helpful too.


If possible, always try to suggest the availability of suicide helplines and always keep a close one informed if the person is at high risk of suicide. Also, remember to stay in touch with the person at risk beyond the first conversation to remind them that they aren’t alone!

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