Suicide Prevention 101: Resource Guide

September is Suicide Prevention Month and the perfect time to raise awareness around this stigmatised topic. Talk openly and save a life. Make a difference with this comprehensive approach to suicide prevention.

By Hima
10 Sep 2022

World Health Organization shows that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the world. National Crime Records Bureau of India report shows that the suicide rate in India has increased by 8.7 per cent from 2019 to 2020. Also, a 1993 study in the Journal of Primary Prevention shows that 70 to 80 per cent of vulnerable individuals show warning signs of suicide and changes in behaviour. Responding to these signs with authenticity, calmness, and compassion is very important. So, this means that if we pay little attention, we can detect when our family, friends, and colleagues are troubled and in need of guidance. By offering support and compassion, we can help them get proper care before things escalate. Here are three steps to follow to prevent self-harming behaviours in individuals.


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Speak Up and Ask Questions

Suicide prevention and awareness need to remain at the forefront of the conversation. As a society, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague, or as someone with lived experience we all must play a role in supporting those who are experiencing self-harming thoughts or those who have been bereaved by negative, depressing, or self-harming actions. We must understand the issue and reach out to those who need help.


A study published in the Journal of Social Psychiatry, 2020 showed that only 13 per cent of victims tend to seek help on their own. Even though you are not responsible for preventing someone from taking his or her own life, your intervention might help save a life. Start by finding out whether a person is in danger of acting on self-harming thoughts by asking questions. Be sensitive about the topic, however, it is important to ask direct questions.


1. Do you have thoughts of giving up on life?

2. Are you thinking about hurting yourself?

3. Have you ever thought about hurting yourself?

4. Have you tried to harm yourself before?

5. Do you want help to overcome your thoughts?


These are just a few examples of what to ask a person who you think is suicidal. National Institute of Mental Health recommends this because asking about self-harming thoughts or feelings will not push someone into doing something self-destructive. It will allow them to talk about the feelings which may reduce the risk of them doing something drastic.


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Warning Signs to Look Out For

A study published in The Official Journal of the American Association of Suicidology, 2021 concluded that the majority of people displayed warning signs before attempting self-harm regardless of gender and age. It also showed that talking about death was the most common warning sign. Here we have listed the common behaviours that people with suicidal thoughts display.

  • Often writing or talking about self-harming, destructive subjects
  • Ignoring self-care
  • Seeking deadly means of self-harm
  • Increased agitation and violence
  • Increase in anxiety and depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Reckless and impulsive behaviour
  • Changes in sleep patterns, either sleeping too much or too little


Once you observe these signs, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for help. Being an upstander and reaching out to help and support someone with suicidal behaviour can truly change lives.


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Offer Support and Build Confidence

You might not know what to do or what to say when a family member or friend is dealing with suicidal thoughts. Here are seven ways you can help.


  • Encourage communication
  • Be respectful of their opinions and acknowledge the feelings
  • Stop being judgmental while giving your opinion
  • Do not patronise
  • Encourage and help to seek treatment
  • Take them to get assistance
  • Reassure that things will get better


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Things to Avoid Saying

Our language and the tone of our language matter while we are talking to a person. A study published in BMJ Medicine, in 2011 showed that the way we respond to a person’s feelings and thoughts shapes how they respond to those feelings. Similarly, being invalidating, dismissive, shaming, and oversimplifying someone’s thoughts is never okay.


Here are ten phases that must be avoided.

  • You are just overreacting
  • You are doing all this to just seek attention
  • Stop the drama and get over it
  • Other people go through worse and they are doing fine
  • It’s not that bad, you are just blowing it out of proportion
  • Your life is great, so why would you be depressed
  • You are being selfish
  • Stop playing the victim
  • Stop acting
  • Have a drink and forget about it


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To sum it all up, here’s what you should do to help prevent self-harming behaviours:

1. Educate yourself by learning the warning signs and risk factors

2. Encourage seeking help and know where and when to seek help

3. End the stigma by holding a conversation and spreading awareness about suicide

4. Donate your time, personal experience, and information

5. Support the people that are seeking help






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