I don't normally talk about the more serious topics on here. But actually I want people to know that it is okay to discuss this especially after the AQA exam board has taken their suicide lessons off of the syllabus. As this was a special request it gave me more reason to talk about it in a little more detail. This is hard topic to discuss for anyone no matter your age, gender or ethnicity as it can have a huge impact on people. So in order to hopefully make it a little easier to talk about, whether you know someone going through this, you are personally going through this or you just want to know a little bit more. I hope this helps...
1. Lose the taboo
I think this is a clear beginner if you are going to discuss this top to try to lose the taboo associated with not being able to talk about it for one reason or another. It is perfectly acceptable to talk about them. One way that we can help people loose the taboo connected to this topic is to not say "committed a suicide" as this can easily connect it to being a crime in which suicide is definitely not. Instead replace the word "committed" to more respectful words like attempted, thought about or completed suicide.
2. Don't assume they're using it for attention - even if they seem happy
You can never know exactly how someone is feeling inside. If someone always seems happy and confines in you, this doesn't mean they are doing it for attention. The same as if someone is always sad it doesn't mean they are doing it for attention. Most often than not they don't do it for attention, they do it because they are struggling with the stresses that their life holds. Suicide or self harm is a way to communicate pain and are unhealthy coping methods and when we think about it that way, we are thinking that suicidal thoughts and self harm are ways to cope with pain whilst still holding in there.
3. Understand that both self harm and suicide are different things and don't come together
Someone can self harm and this doesn't mean that they are also suicidal. The same as if someone is feeling suicidal doesn't mean they are self harming. They are different things, although they can be linked together it doesn't mean they have to be addressing both and just because someone is having suicidal thoughts does not mean they will be self harming and via-versa.
4. Refer them to someone like the Samaritans or their local doctors
You don't have to feel like you have to help them on your own, actually it is healthy for them and you to encourage them to seek help or with the other people they have told. If you don't feel like you can help them enough on your own, or with the other people they have told. Ensure to refer them to either the Samaritans or local doctors in order to help them receive a little more help that you may not be able to give them and if your friend said they got help and it didn't help, explain to them that there is a range of help and you would be happy to go with them if they would like.
5. Understand that it is hard for someone to talk about
It's okay to find this topic hard to talk about as it is something that shows that someone you love and care about is struggling or if this is about you it's okay to find it hard to talk about. The most important thing is that the person struggling doesn't go through this alone as that makes it a lot harder and once you open up this conversation, it does not have to be the only thing you talk about. Talk about their strengths, what things they like to do and all the other things you talk about as friends.
6. Make it clear that there are people that care about them... you being one of them
When their talking about it, make sure that you don't cut them short because if you do it's most likely that they will not trust to confine in you again. Show them that you care by prioritising them and offering to meet up again to either help take their mind of it or talk about it a little more. Also keep inviting them out, they may keep saying no, however that invite let's them know that you care and can make a world of a difference to them.
7. Don't assume
When I say this I mean don't assume that this is because someone has depression or if you know someone that has depression that they must self harm or think about suicide. This isn't always the case. Someone could have depression and do or have these thoughts, just the same as how they can be diagnosed with it and not.
8. Try not to use the words
For some people using the words "suicide" and "self-harm" can make is hard to talk about. So check in with your friends to see how they want to refer to these words, even maybe come up with a funny code word for suicide or self harm, like "I am having cheery thoughts again" this can help them to feel more comfortable with talking about it. Remember you are not a counsellor trying to fix there suicidal thoughts, you are a friend trying to provide support.
9. Keep it confidential
Whatever is said to you about any of their problems or their feelings or their actions. Make sure you keep it confidential, by this I mean not to spread the word that they are feeling like this. If for example you are really worried it's okay to tell their parents or their loved ones but let them know that you are doing this and encouraging them to tell their parents or a loved one first with you. Supporting someone who is struggling can have an impact on your own mental health. Therefore, talking to someone about your friend can be a really good coping tool. When you do talk about them to another person, you don't have to use their real name.
10. Understand there are different forms
By this I mean don't assume that everyone who self harms cut their wrists or all people who suffer with suicide overdose. There are different ways that self harm and suicide can affect them. If they say something that they consider if one of the two, possible look it up and get a little bit more further research. Also, remember all of us feel pain in different ways and cope with pain differently. When was the last time you felt stressed and had a beer to chill out or smoked a fag to deal with anger or read a book to loose yourself for a while. Self harm and suicidal thoughts are ways to deal with pain.