By Shazrina Sabri

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--People think about suicide for multiple reasons and contrary to popular belief, talking to them about their thoughts does not make them more likely to end their life. 

Here’s  what you can do:
Choose a time and place where you can talk openly and easily without getting interrupted. It could be while you are doing something together, while you’re on a  walk, or even while driving. 
If you see someone talking about suicide online, private message them instead of on social media or a public platform.

You can start the conversation by asking:
a. How are you?
b. I’ve had a terrible week, how was yours?
c. Is everything okay at home/work/school?

Be sure to show genuine concern for the person and listen to them without judgment.

After you’ve built some rapport, you could directly ask “are you having thoughts of  suicide?” and if they say “yes”, here’s how to respond:
a. Thank them for opening up to you
b. Let them know that you are there for them
c. Tell them that other people feel like this and that they are not alone d. Provide them with help resources for suicide prevention such as calling a  suicide hotline
e. Guide them to seek help from a mental health professional

It can take time for them to feel ready to talk to someone, so if they are not ready to seek professional help, reassure them that they are not alone and guide them to access self-help information online.

You should also find out if they’ve made a plan (for suicide). 
This is important  because people who have made a plan are at more risk. If you feel that they are  not safe, please bring them to the emergency unit immediately. 
You can also help  them create a crisis/safety plan which would consist of who they should call and  what they should do in a situation of crisis.

We’ve talked about the do’s, here are some don’ts:
a. Don’t try to talk them out of suicide by reminding them how much it would  hurt their loved ones
b. Don’t try to fix their problems. Always listen with empathy and without  judgment
c. Don’t dismiss it as “attention seeking” – take them seriously and  acknowledge their feelings
d. Don’t try to find an easy solution or tell them to cheer up or be positive – doing this disregards their feelings

Take home point:
Someone with suicidal thoughts might feel isolated and hopeless. Be that person who listens without judgment and helps them get the support they need.

*Shazrina Sabri is a Clinical Psychologist at KPJ Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital*