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Talking about suicide can be quite daunting, but you can do it too

Talking about suicide

More than 1000 benches are already placed throughout the Netherlands. To provide a space for meaningful conversations and to see someone truly.
To see someone truly, you need time. A moment of peace. To look at each other, to explore what you need, and to find out how you can help to find a solution. 
Unfortunately there’s still a taboo on suicide. However, a conversation can be incredibly relieving and the starting point for a solution. Anyone can have such a conversation. Maybe it’s scary, but it isn’t difficult.

What you should know about suicide

The signals

Someone who thinks about suicide is tending to change behaviour. For example: 

  • Avoiding contact
  • Acting recklessly an carelessly 
  • Being sad and gloomy 

You can also notice verbal signs. For example: 

  • ‘Soon, no one will be bothered by me.’
  • ‘I couldn’t care less anymore.’
  • ‘I’m better off when I’m gone.’

Certain events or circumstances may increase the risk of suicide: 

  • If someone already did a suicide attempt.
  • If someone has lost something important, like a job or relationship.
  • When someone beloved lost his life by suicide. 
  • When someone suffers from mental problems.

Facts and Fiction

Let’s do some factchecking. Do you know if these claims are true or not true? 

‘Talking about suicide makes someone want to kill himself.’ 
Not true. Talking about suicide simply shows you care about someone. It helps to take away some of the loneliness and tension. 

‘Suicide happens suddenly.’ 
Not true. Suicide may appear to happen suddenly and unexpectedly, but it takes a much longer process before someone commits suicide. 

‘Talking about suicide might help someone to feel better.’ 
True. If someone can share feelings about suicide, it may be the first step towards help and to a better solution for the problem someone’s experiencing. 

Do's and dont's

Talking about suicide can save a life. So even it’s a little bit scary, just start the conversation. You’re doing well and even better if you keep in mind the do’s and don’ts. 


  • Name it. Using the word suicide is safe. So when you suspect someone has thoughts about suicide, just ask in a direct way.
  • Keep asking. To find out the details about the suicidal thoughts and what someone actually feels.  
  • Safety first. Help to establish a secure environment and talk about the proper options for getting help. 


  • Don’t approve suicide. Show empathy, but be clear that suicide is not a proper solution
  • Don’t give advice, instead of that you should acknowledge the feeling of someone who’s thinking about suicide.
  • Don’t judge. Judging may cause someone shut down. Keep in mind there’s no right or wrong. 

Take good care of yourself

Dealing with a loved one in suicidal crisis can be very emotional. So take care for yourself: 

  • Make sure you have some support to share your feelings, by example your friends, family or general practitioner.
  • Do not promise tot keep it a secret.
  • Make sure you can relax. 

How to help someone with suicidal thoughts

Ask the question

When you think someone has suicidal thoughts, make sure to ask.

Use the question below that suits you best, or choose your own words. Make sure you are very clear and direct in the way you ask the question.

  • ‘Do you ever think: I don’t care anymore?’
  • ‘Do you ever think about taking your own life?’
  •  ‘Do you ever think: I do not want to live my life like this?’

Listen, show empathy

If someone tells about suicidal thought, ask more specific questions. Find out what the person feels, wants or thinks. Listen with an open mind and without prejudice.

You can ask for example:

  • ‘How awful. What makes you feel this way?’
  • ‘You must feel quite desperate. Is that true?’
  • ‘How often do you think about suicide?’
  • ‘Do you have any ideas on how you want to take your life?’

Look for help together

If someone’s thinking about suicide, the person needs help right away.

  • Do not assume the person will look for help on his/her own.
  • Offer your help to find professional support together.
  • A general practitioner or 113 suicide prevention can advise you to find the right help.

You can always chat with 113 on or you can call for free 0800-113 to ask for help and advice. You can reach us 24/7. Your call is confidential and anonymous. In case of immediate danger call 112.