Supporting someone in a crisis

How can I help?

If you are concerned for the welfare of someone else, you might be unsure about what to do. There are no right or wrong answers, but there are a few small actions you can take that could make a big difference.

Listen

• Listening can be powerful.
• When listening, take what the other person says seriously, pay attention with respect, and show that you are trying to understand by asking questions.
• Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions.
• Give the person space to express and articulate their distress and acknowledge and listen to what they say.
• If possible, try to listen before giving advice or discussing possible actions.

Link in with other supports

• You don’t have to have all the answers or solutions. You can link the person in with people who are trained in dealing with people in crisis. Having someone who cares come along with them as they seek support can make the process less overwhelming and scary.
• If you think someone you know is at immediate risk of taking their life, it is vital that you link them in with a professional who can help.

Get more information

A number of Mental Health Reform’s member organisations offer more detailed guidelines about what to do if someone you know is experiencing a crisis.
• Suicide or Survive has produced a document on what to do if someone tells you they are thinking of suicide. You can download it here.
• Samaritans offer advice on how to start a difficult conversation with someone if you are concerned for their wellbeing. You can find them here.