The Importance of Recognising Suicidal Ideation in Care Settings

Read About Suicide Prevention Safety Plans Here

Recognising that someone is suicidal and having the skills, knowledge and confidence to engage in a conversation with them will inevitably make a difference and does save lives.

When caring for others, support workers and carers play an important role in safeguarding individuals in their care and they have a very important role to play.

Ask yourself the following questions to form your suicidal risk assessment

  • Who spends the most time with Patient/Client/Service Users?
  • Who completes observations on individuals in your care?
  • Who is the first to notice changes in the individual?
  • Who is told about social issues?
  • Who communicates, engages, and offers emotional support on a daily basis?

In a supportive and caring environment, we should always trust our instincts, engage in conversation & REPORT Suicidal Ideation concerns.  The skill to have empathetic and compassionate suicidal conversation can be learnt and are invaluable.

If you are concerned about someone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviours, it’s essential to have a caring and supportive conversation with them as soon as possible.]

Here are some guidelines on when to host a conversation to help with suicidal thoughts

When you notice warning signs: Pay attention to signs that may indicate someone is struggling with thoughts of suicide. These can include talking about feeling hopeless, burdened, or trapped, withdrawing from friends and family, giving away possessions, or expressing a desire to die.

After an alarming event: If someone has experienced a significant life event or loss, such as a breakup, job loss, or the death of a loved one, they may be at a higher risk of suicidal thoughts. Reach out to them to provide support and talk openly about their feelings.

If they confide in you: If someone trusts you enough to confide in you about their suicidal thoughts or feelings, take it seriously. This is a crucial moment to have a conversation with them and offer support.

When they reach out for help: If someone reaches out for help, whether it’s through a text message, phone call, or in person, be available to listen and provide assistance immediately.

If you have concerns: Even if you’re not entirely sure whether someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts, if you have any concerns or gut feelings that something is wrong, it’s better to initiate a conversation and ask directly about their well-being.

When you can create a safe, private environment: Find a comfortable and private place to have the conversation where the person feels safe and not judged. Eliminate distractions and give them your full attention.

Anytime you are worried: It’s always better to err on the side of caution when you’re worried about someone’s mental health. A conversation, even if they aren’t in immediate crisis, can provide an opportunity for them to share their feelings and for you to offer additional support.

People discussing a suicide prevention safety plan by Tidal Training

Remember that discussing suicide with someone can be challenging, but it’s a critical step in helping them get the support they need. Approach the conversation with empathy, compassion, active listening, and a non-judgmental attitude. If you believe they are in immediate danger, do not hesitate to seek additional support for them and report this. Your actions can make a significant difference in someone’s life.

Many front-line workers supporting patients/clients/service users with mental health issues are not empowered with the knowledge, skills or confidence to host suicide conversations.  It is essential that staff have appropriate training in this area.

Tidal Training’s suite of Mental Health Training Courses includes our Hosting Suicidal Conversations Training which has been developed to equip support staff with the skills and confidence to manage a conversation with someone who is having thoughts of suicide or showing signs of suicidal behaviour. Conversations should take place in an empathetic and compassionate way.

It is still believed by many that talking about suicide might ‘give the person ideas’ or ‘tip the person over the edge’. All the research into suicide finds that when people with suicidal thoughts and feelings are given the opportunity to speak about how they are feeling, it “reduces the intensity of holding it all in” Jonny Benjamin 2017.

This course is therefore suitable for those in health care, mental health care, supported living, education and child care, public safety – law enforcement, prison services, approved housing, social services, housing services, support workers in all services, etc.