Spotting the signs of suicide

Suicide support

SAIF’s National Presidential charity for the year is PAPYRUS, a charity which works hard in the prevention of suicide in children and young adults. PAPYRUS has provided a guide to spotting the signs of suicide in children and young people.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for anybody aged 35 and under in the UK(1), with more than 200 school-aged children taking their lives each year(2).

Leading UK charity, PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, believes many of these deaths can be prevented. Spotting the signs is really important – here is how you can spot them and support a child or young person who might be having suicidal thoughts.

The following are signs somebody may be experiencing thoughts of suicide (it is not an exhaustive list):

  • Loss of interest in things they would normally enjoy
  • Withdrawal, they may spend more time in their bedroom, or alone; they may be quieter than usual
  • Giving away possessions
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of interest in their appearance
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, sadness, guilt or worthlessness
  • Language change. Saying things like: “I can’t take it anymore”, “Everyone would be better off without me.”
  • A sudden change in behaviour – is the young person suddenly cheery and upbeat, where they may not have been before?

If you’re worried that a young person is feeling suicidal, the best thing that you can do is to ask them directly. By using the word suicide, you are telling the young person that it’s ok to talk openly with you: “Sometimes, when people are feeling the way you are they think about suicide. Is that what you’re thinking about?”

“Are you telling me you want to kill yourself/end your life/die/die by suicide?”

“It sounds like you’re thinking about suicide, is that right?”

If someone is suicidal, listen to them and allow them to express their feelings. They may feel a huge sense of relief that someone is willing to hear their darkest thoughts.

Reassure them that they are not alone, and you can look for support together.

Finally, if a child or young person has told you they are feeling suicidal, you are not alone. PAPYRUS runs a helpline called HOPELINEUK, a free, confidential support and advice service for any young person up to the age of 35 who is experiencing thoughts of suicide. It’s also for anybody who is worried about a young person. It is open 9am to midnight every day.

Call: 0800 068 4141

Text: 07860 039 967

Email here

For more information and the complete guide, visit PAPYRUS.

Spotting the signs of suicide


2 ONS data for leading cause of death up to and including aged 19.

Young Minds

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