Improving Mental Wellbeing & Lifestyle

How to support a person with suicide and self-harm behaviour

Are you struggling to support a person with suicide or self-harm behaviour?

Do you know where to get help for them or support for yourselves?

It is important to understand the risk factors that may cause a person to want to take their own life. This blog post will also discuss and give you insight into recognising early warning signs of suicide and self-harm and tips on how to support them.

As a Mental health blogger, I love that I can use my platform to create awareness of self-harm and suicide prevention.

I know its a difficult subject to discuss, but we can’t shy away from it. So, we ought to speak up and educate people to ease the stigma it carries.

Suicide and self-harm are real problems in our society, and it is not getting the attention it needs. Moreover, Some people have loved ones who battle with suicidal thoughts daily and are totally lost on how to help them.

For that reason, I feel it’s important to create awareness and educate people about spotting warning signs of suicide and self -harm and how to support those struggling with suicide and self-harm behaviour.

How to support a person with suicide and self-harm behaviour

It’s important to understand why some people resort to suicide and self-harm as a way of dealing with their problems. The next paragraph will discuss this.

So, Keep reading!

What you need to know about Suicide and Self-harm Behaviour? 

Suicide facts

 According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 1 million people die due to suicide every year. 

It is reported that Suicide takes second place in the cause of death among 15-29 years old. 

Suicide tends to occur in the low and middle-income household. 

The most common method of suicide includes hanging, an overdose of medication, firearms and ingestion of pesticides. 

It is yet to be understood why those living with suicidal depression would want to take their lives.

Self-harm facts

Self-harm means when someone intentionally want to harm themselves as a way of managing their traumas or difficult experiences.

People who self-harm often do this discreetly because they may not want others to know about it.

Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why and how they can self-harm. So, I will ahead and mention various ways they can do self-harm in this next paragraph.

Risk factors of suicide and Self-harm

Some of common risk factors include: 

-Experiencing mental illness

-Alcohol and drug abuse.

-A traumatic event or childhood abuse.

-Chronic debilitating pain

-Terminal illness

-previous suicide attempts

How To Recognise The Signs Of Suicide And Self-harm. 

Recognising Warning Signs Of  Suicide
Recognising Warning Signs of Suicide

Recognising the signs of suicide is key to its prevention. So, look for the signs below;

Isolating from others- Wanting to be alone. Withdrawing from family and friends. 

Expressing Hopelessness- Feels there is no alternative but suicide.

Preoccupation with suicidal thoughts-talking about dying.

Feeling of Self-hatred- Feeling like they are a burden to those around them.

Researching for ways to commit suicide. Chaotic behaviour – Misuse of drug and alcohol. Engaging in unsafe sex practice.

Making several suicidal attempts.

Preparing themselves – writing their will and making unusual phone calls or letters to friend s and family to Saying goodbye.

Behavioural changes – An usual elation of mood after recovering from depression.

Different Ways people can self-harm

  • Ingesting poisonous liquid or food
  • Overdosing by taking prescription or over the counter drugs
  • Burning with a cigarette but or fire
  • Cutting
  • Banging of body
  • Scalding
  • inserting a foreign object into your body

Warning Signs of Suicide and Self-harm in Teens 

Warning Signs of Suicide in Teens
Warning Signs of Suicide in Teens

It is reported that apart from the common risk factors of suicide and self-harm, both teenagers and the elderly have a higher risk .  Also, look out for some warning signs of suicide listed below in teenagers.

-Social withdrawal from friends and family

-change in character like running away.

-misuse of alcohol and drugs.

-Neglecting their self-care.

-Complaints of physical symptoms i.e headache, stomachache.

-Loss of interest in things they usually enjoy.

Risk factors of Self-harm and Suicide in the elderly

 You may not know that suicide occurs among older adults. The list below is risk factors that may contribute to suicide in the elderly.

-Loss of a loved one

-Experiencing physically illness




Warning suicide and self-harm signs in the Elderly

Warning Signs of suicide in the Elderly
Warning Signs of Suicide in the Elderly

The list below are some of the warnings signs of suicide in the elderly which include;

-Social isolation

-Change in sleep pattern

-Talking about death and suicide

-Increased alcohol intake


-Not compliant with their prescribed medical treatment

How To Support A Person With Suicide And Self-harm Behaviour.

How to Support a Suicidal Person
How to Support a Suicidal Person

Practical tip #1

Don’t be afraid to encourage them to talk about their feelings.

So, if you notice someone you are caring for is displaying warning signs of suicide and self-harm, speak to them.

They may not have the strength to talk to you about it. You may feel uncomfortable to discuss the topic, but you may be saving that person’s life. So, don’t hesitate to step in.

When I have spoken to those struggling with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, the feedback I got was that they found it very helpful when people around gave them time to vent their feelings. In most cases, this has averted suicide attempts after speaking to someone.

How to engage in a conversation with a person with suicide and self-harm intentions.

-when speaking to a person with suicide and self-harm thought, let them know they are not alone.
– Try to give a listening ear and give them time to unload their feelings. Often it’s difficult for a person with suicide and self-harm thoughts to say how they are feeling, so it’s reassuring that they are speaking.

-Show compassion, empathy and non-judgemental. If they feel otherwise, it will difficult for them to approach you when next they need support.

– Give reassurance and hope- let them know they can get help and support through their challenges.

-Don’t minimise their feelings or tell them to get over it. This will not help as they may feel you are not acknowledging their struggles.

Practical tip #2

Act fast in crisis Situation.

What do you when someone tells you they are thinking about taking their own lives?.

You must take them seriously and assess if he or she is in imminent danger. Also, Find out if they have a suicide and self-harm plan and set time to carry it out.

When assessing the risk of suicide or self-harm, it is important to ask them how the intent to do this.

How do I assess the severity of suicide risk?

Low risk

A person expressing suicide and self-harm thoughts with no plan has assured you they won’t harm themselves.

High risk

If a person expressed suicidal thought with a specific plan but denies any attempts to harm themselves.

Severe risk

However, if a person is expressing thoughts to harm themselves with a plan and has made an attempt to end their life. You will need to contact emergency services for help and stay with them.

Practical# Tip 3

Treatment and Support

First and foremost, lending a listening ear and being empathetic is important for those battling this behaviour.

Secondly, encourage them to see a mental health professional for psychological therapy or medical treatment for their condition.

Thirdly, you can contact the mental health crisis line for advice and referrals. Also, take them to an appointment with their professionals for support.

Encourage them to be compliant with the treatment prescribed by health professionals and keep a close eye on side effects and report it. I understand it’s one of the reasons people stop their medication.
At the same time, encourage your loved one to improve your mental health wellbeing by changing their lifestyle, for example, exercising, healthy eating and good sleep.

Finally, work with the person to develop a crisis and contingency plan. Developing this plan allows the person to say how they can be supported whilst they are well.

The plan should identify any stressors that may lead to a suicidal crisis and what they feel may be helpful during a crisis. The plan should also state the contact details for support in the event of a crisis.

Help for those caring for people with Suicide And Self Harm Behaviour.

Carers support
Carers Support

Caring for a person with suicide and self-harm behaviour have a tendency to bringing it up lots of emotions. Do not forget to take care of yourself. I would recommend having a self-care routine to help maintain your mental wellbeing.

-Speak to Mental health professionals if you are struggling to support your loved ones.
-A support group like a carer support group.

-check my resources page on my website for information on charity or organisations that may offer support.

-Talk to a trusted friend and family to vent your feelings.

In conclusion, I hope this post will help you recognise the warning signs of suicide and self-harm behaviour and know-how and where to get help for your loved ones.

So, if this post has been helpful, do leave a comment in the comment section.

Disclaimer: The post’s content is my views and opinions solely and may not be associated with professional capacity.

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