Suicide is a tricky subject to talk about, especially if you are concerned that someone you know is possibly thinking about taking their own life.

It is estimated that 800,000 people worldwide die by suicide every year and that attempted suicides are between 10 and 20 times greater than this number. Figures also show a high gender imbalance, with cases of male suicide being an average of 3.5 times higher than those of females.

Whether you are concerned for someone else, or in need of support yourself, preventingsuicideinsussex.org has been launched to provide support for those in need. As well as knowing where to go for help, it is also important to know what to look out for if you are worried about a friend or a loved one.

If someone is in immediate danger of taking their own life call emergency services on 999. Ask for an ambulance. Or take them to A&E at their local hospital.

The important steps to remember are:

Be alert – Not everyone who is thinking about suicide will tell someone, but there may be warning signs.

Be honest – Tell them you are worried about them. Be sure to tell them that it’s safe to tell you how they really are and that it is okay to talk about suicide.

Listen – One of the most helpful things you can do for a friend in crisis is listen. Do not try to judge or give advice, just make sure that they feel heard and understood and reassure them that this feeling will not last forever.

Get them help – There is a range of help and useful advice available that can be accessed through preventingsuicideinsussex.org

Take care of yourself – Suicide is a distressing topic to talk about, even when you are not the one experiencing the feelings. You may find it helpful to discuss things with another trusted friend or confidential service such as the Sussex Mental Healthline. Make sure to look after yourself as well.

Warning signs

You may see changes in the behaviour of someone contemplating suicide. Some of these changes are possibly hard to spot and there will be different signs in different people, but don’t ignore your gut instinct. If something seems off it may be time to talk to your friend about your concerns.

These changes may present as: increased anxiety, irritability, becoming withdrawn, mood swings, reckless behaviour or posting negative things about themselves online among many others. For more details about the warning signs associated with suicide visit preventingsuicideinsussex.org.