Understanding Suicidal Thoughts 

Whatever the mental or physical health diagnosis, if the person you care for has talked about suicide it’s important you take them seriously. In a crisis, help is available 24/7 from the Samaritans on 116 123. In an emergency call 999. The zero suicide alliance offers free online suicide prevention training which takes just 20 minutes to complete. Offering the right type of support to someone who is feeling suicidal is crucial. LivingWorks, a leading provider of suicide-alertness training, advises following the acronym TALK:

T – tell Someone who is feeling suicidal will be telling you how they feel but perhaps not very directly so be aware of the signs and learn to read them. Do not dismiss them or trivialise them

A – ask If you think someone is thinking of suicide always ask them. You can’t give them the idea of suicide simply by asking, and it is important that you do ask. If they say ‘no’ you haven’t lost anything, and if they say ‘yes’ you have a chance to help.

L – listen Don’t rush them or judge. Tell them ‘this is important’. Don’t try to offer solutions, just listen. Listening stops people feeling alone, gives hope and provides emotional release.

K – keep safe Don't promise secrecy, don’t leave someone feeling suicidal alone, keep yourself and them safe.

Most people who feel suicidal simply want to end their pain, not their life, and many people who have had suicidal thoughts and/or made a suicide attempt look back later and say they are glad to have survived and that the right intervention at the right moment made all the difference. There is nothing inevitable about suicide – it is often a question of knowing how to help and support someone through a crisis. More help is also available from:

CALM Helpline is dedicated to preventing male suicide and offering confidential emotional support for men through their helpline. Telephone: 0800 58 58 58. Calls are free from landlines and most mobiles. Webchat (5pm-midnight)

Grassroots suicide prevention charity

Maytree Sanctuary is open to anyone in a suicidal crisis for a one-off short stay in a safe place. The service is free and it is open to anyone in the UK and it offers a quiet place to reflect and time to talk in confidence. Telephone: 0207 263 7070

Papyrus Hope line UK is a national confidential helpline for young people at risk of suicide. Telephone: 0800 068 41 41

Samaritans - call 116 123. This is a free 24-hour helpline

STOP Suicide is an award-winning suicide prevention campaign which reaches across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, led by the charity Mind in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Fenland and Lifecraft

The MindEd Trust is a Registered Charity which is focused on the prevention of mental illness in young people and early intervention strategies for those experiencing trauma

CHUMS Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Service for children and Young People 


The page was last updated on 08 October 2019 by carers.editor.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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