Frequently asked questions2024-03-05T16:42:30+00:00

Frequently asked questions

If you have any questions about OLLIE, suicide, getting help with suicidal thoughts or helping someone who may be suicidal, please see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or email us.

Please note that we do not offer a crisis line. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts please click here.

If I ask someone about suicide, is there a risk I could ‘put the idea in their head’?2024-02-27T15:21:00+00:00

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.

If I think someone may be suicidal, what is the first thing I should do?2024-02-27T15:23:28+00:00

If their behaviour, actions or language are worrying you, the first thing to do is to make some time to talk with them. Once you have agreed on a time and a suitable place you should:

Tell – tell them you are worried about them and explain why in a non-accusatory way.
Ask – ask them directly if they have/haven’t had thoughts of suicide.
Listen – listen to their answers, don’t speak to fill silence or rush them to reply.
Keep safe – look at what you can do to keep them safe e.g.  take them to A&E, ensure they are in a safe location, stay with them till professional help can be accessed.

What if I’m suicidal?2024-02-27T15:26:39+00:00

Feeling suicidal can be incredibly scary, lonely, and overwhelming and you may have many questions.

If you are in crisis or feeling suicidal, click Need Help Now?

If you are not at immediate risk, please have a look at the Help for You section and see if you can find what you need there.

Does someone have to have a mental illness to be suicidal?2024-02-27T15:31:21+00:00

No. Whilst thoughts about suicide can be linked to living with a mental illness, feeling suicidal can happen to anyone, and doesn’t necessarily mean you have a mental illness. Research indicates that up to one in four young people will consider suicide at some point, but often as a result of an emotional crisis rather than mental illness. Did you know that it’s common to fleetingly consider ending one’s life and that not all people who die by suicide have mental illness at the time of death? Ongoing research informs our knowledge in this area, and we know that suicide can be meticulously planned by some, while for others it’s a completely spontaneous act. In either case, this could be due to a mental illness or an emotional crisis.

However, it should be noted that an emotional crisis can be triggered by poor mental health. To clarify further, an emotional crisis can result in a person having reduced capacity to access efficient coping strategies or they are unable to utilise their problem-solving skills to overcome the obstacles they currently face. To understand this further please join our session Keeping Safe & Carrying On. Feeling overwhelmed by situations that are causing significant despair with no solution available and a loss of hope that things can change, can rapidly lead to an emotional crisis where suicide offers a quick solution.

Is suicide more common in certain genders or age groups?2024-02-27T15:33:44+00:00

Although it is important to remember that all individuals are different and that suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, regardless of age, race or gender, statistics show that in the UK men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women and suicide is currently the biggest killer in young people and males under fifty. However, women are three times more likely to try to end their life than men. We also know that certain professions and life experiences can increase risk so the situation is more nuanced than gender and age.

What is the best way to speak to someone about suicide?2024-02-27T15:36:44+00:00

Be clear, concise, and use the words ‘suicide’ or ‘Are you thinking of ending your life’ so that you are both clear that it is suicide you are talking about. Don’t be afraid of using the term and ask about suicide directly. Remember, nearly always it’s not that they want to end their life, it’s that they want the situation to end and currently they don’t know how else to do that. Talking with you, now, may help them work out other solutions.

Is there a minimum age at which suicide can be discussed?2024-02-27T15:43:00+00:00

Regardless of the age, if a child has been directly exposed to suicide it is vital someone is able to discuss this with them in a way that is compassionate and honest.

Younger children are often given information that they find hard to process. We have seen it’s common for younger children to be told their loved one ‘had a disease in their brain’ or ‘they were not very well in their brain’. This is often deeply disturbing for children, who can be left worrying if they or someone else will get ill too. We have also seen that some children who are told things like, ‘Mummy is with the angels’ or ‘Daddy is in heaven now’ process this in such a way that they decide that they then want to die too, as it sounds rather nice to be in heaven with their loved one.
Ultimately, it is down to individuals such as parents and schools to decide when is the appropriate age and how to talk about suicide with children.

A significant risk factor for attempting suicide is previous exposure, therefore the subject should be approached in an age-appropriate manner using clear language relatable to the age group.
If a child has been bereaved by suicide, Support After Suicide offers this guidance.

If you work in education, the Guidance for Educational Settings Following A Suicide or Sudden Death can be found here.

If you are looking to engage your youth community in an age-appropriate discussion about suicide, we have a range of talks and awareness sessions that have been sensitively designed just for them.

For more information please see Empowering Conversations: Creating a Suicide Aware Community.

What are the most common signs that someone may be considering suicide?2024-02-27T15:45:55+00:00

Suicidal thoughts can be very hidden, but you may hear things in someone’s language and see things in their behaviour. So any change in their normal behaviour is an invitation to be curious. Things they may do or say that worry you, added to things you may know about their circumstances (e.g. bereavement, loss of job, relationship issues), these are all invitations to get curious. Everyone is an individual so it’s about being aware of changes in the person you know.

If you would like to know more about signs to look out for, please join us on our next Talk Safe.

How do I tell my workplace if I am struggling to cope?2024-02-27T15:47:07+00:00

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings, reaching out for support can feel overwhelming too. Everyday tasks such as going to work may be comforting and provide routine, but may also be very challenging. Although you may find it difficult, it is important to be honest with your workplace about how you are feeling and access the support available. Have a look at The Muse’s guide on how to talk to your boss about your mental health here.

What is the difference between mental health and mental illness?2024-02-27T15:48:00+00:00

Mental health is something we all have, just in the same way that we all have physical health. Mental illness is something that many people experience but not all, just in the same way as some experience physical illness and some don’t. And just as some physical illnesses are fleeting or temporary, getting better with time or medication, so are some mental illnesses. You can read more about the differences here.

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