The simple answer is no. Whilst it might feel like a difficult question to ask it may be a life-saving conversation that follows, so it is important that you ask the direct question: “Are you thinking of suicide?”. By being direct, you are showing that you have the capacity and willingness to speak about this, that you are there to support them and want to REALLY know how they are feeling. It gives that person ‘permission’ to talk about suicidal feelings if they are present. If you have any concerns or worries, best practice is clear: always ask if they are considering suicide. Research shows that just recognising their despair can actually reduce the risk of a person ending their life, even if you do nothing else. If you are mistaken, the worst that will happen is an awkward conversation, but at least that person will now know you are someone they can come to and talk to about suicide should they ever need to.

Although all of the above is true, you would not ask this question if the person was experiencing a psychotic episode or if you suspect they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For more information on all of this, please consider attending a Talk Safe session.