A better Medway

Ask. Listen. Stop suicide

Ask: Listen: Stop Suicide is a new campaign. It aims to bring our community together to help prevent suicide in Medway.

We're working to help prevent suicide by making it easier for people to talk about suicide.

Suicide is the biggest killer in men under 50 years old and a leading cause of death in young men. In Medway, 84% of residents who died from suicide between 2015 and 2019 were male.

We all can play a role in helping prevent suicide in Kent and Medway.

Asking a family member, friend or colleague how they are can make a big impact in the way someone feels. This can lead to people being able to receive the right support for their situation.

Two people talk while drinking coffee.

Our new online support hub has a range of support for mental health services. There is also training to help support someone who is feeling suicidal.

If someone does open up about their thoughts of suicide, it’s helpful to know how to support them. It can also help to know of the professional support services available to help them.

Let’s keep talking. Showing you care can help someone get the support they need. Asking directly about suicide can help save a life.

About this campaign

Find out more about the different areas in this campaign:

Suicidal thoughts are more common than you think

Suicidal thoughts are often the result of:

  • emotional pain
  • physical pain
  • stress
  • unhappiness.

These situations can affect anyone and everyone.

Talking about suicide with someone who is already having suicidal thoughts will not encourage them to go through with it.

Talking and listening can help prevent suicide.

How to help someone else

Someone may not show how they are really feeling, people could be struggling even if they appear:

  • happy
  • successful
  • strong
  • together.

There’s no easy way to ask someone if they're suicidal but avoiding the issue will not help.

Two people talk on a bench.

Knowing how to respond in the right way is really important. The best approach is to be sensitive but direct.

You can start by responding with the following types of questions:

  • "are you thinking about hurting yourself?"
  • "do you think about ending your life sometimes?"
  • "are you thinking about suicide?"

Asking questions can help someone stay in control while allowing them to talk about how they’re feeling. For example, "when did you start feeling like this?"

Give the person the opportunity to talk honestly and openly. Encourage them to keep on talking and make sure they know they can confide in you.

It’s really important to try to avoid statements that could end the conversation. For example, “I know how you feel” and “try not to worry about it”.

People who experience suicidal thoughts often don’t want to die, they just want their pain to stop.

We can play a part in helping someone who may be feeling isolated and disconnected from society. Follow our new campaign: Ask. Listen, Stop Suicide by using these 3 steps:

Step 1: Ask

If you see or know someone you think might need help, trust your instincts and start a conversation. You could help save a life.

You may not realise someone needs help. You will only know when you ask them how they are feeling.

Here are some simple conversation starters that could make a life changing difference.

Ask someone ‘how are you?’

It could be a friend, family member, colleague or someone you have not spoken to in a while. Simply asking someone how they are shows them that you care

Organise a simple activity

Do something simple like going for a walk or catching up over coffee. Meeting up with someone is a great way to create an opening for a meaningful conversation.

Do something they like

If you know someone well and are worried about them, organise a simple activity that you know they like. There’s plenty of things that can help you meet up with someone you care about and check they’re ok.

Listen

If you’re looking to see if someone is ok, make sure they feel comfortable confiding in you. Try and meet up in a private setting where it is just you and them. Do not ask questions in front of a big group of people, they might not feel comfortable to open up this way.

Step 2: Listen

Make sure you really listen to what they’re saying throughout your conversation. It’s important that the person who needs help does not feel judged.

For example, comments such as “don’t you think you might be drinking too much?” can sometimes make the situation worse.

Two men talk in the changing rooms.

Do not put pressure on them, it’s not their fault they feel this way.

Make sure you reassure them with positive responses. For example, "it's going to be ok, I'm here for you."

Someone may not want to get support after speaking to you.

They may feel better after speaking with you, but this may not last. They may need long term support to help them overcome their suicidal thoughts.

If there is an immediate danger, make sure they are not left on their own. To find out what to do in an emergency, visit our support services for mental health and suicide prevention in Medway page.

This advice is taken from Zero Suicide Alliance. Visit the Zero Suicide Alliance website to download their advice booklet and other resources.

Remember, mentioning suicide to someone who’s already thinking about it will not encourage them to go through with it.

One of the best things you can do for a person who may be feeling suicidal is to simply encourage them to talk about their feelings.

It’s then about signposting them to the right professional support that can help them improve the way they feel.

Step 3: Support services

If someone tells you they’re feeling suicidal, you can signpost them to our support services for mental health and suicide prevention in Medway page.

Online training

Emotional support and understanding to someone who feels like they can’t go on can have a positive effect. If people feel they can ask for help and find it when they need it, then more suicides can be prevented.

Using this online course, you could gain the skills and confidence to help someone who may be considering suicide.

A Suicide Prevention Risks and Awareness course has been funded and developed in partnership by:

  • Kent Safeguarding Childrens’ Board
  • Kent County Council
  • Medway Council
  • NHS partners.

This course has been designed to make sure you:

  • have a basic understanding of suicide prevention issues
  • increase your knowledge and confidence about the role you can play in keeping people safe.

When you have completed the session, you can download your certificate. In just 20 minutes you can gain the skills to save a life.

Sign up for the online suicide prevention training.

You can also watch this interactive online awareness session from the Zero Suicide Alliance.

New local training courses will be available soon. Check back on this page for new sessions regularly.