Are you afraid that someone you know might take their own life?

Dare to care! Taking about suicidal thoughts can be difficult and awkward, but is not unsafe. On the contrary, talking about suicidal thoughts can save lives.

Call 113 in case of acute suicide risk

If you believe there is an acute risk of someone harming themselves or committing suicide, always call 113.

The emergency responders who answer 113 calls are trained to assist in such situations. They can also assess how critical the situation is, so you don't have to make that assessment yourself.

It is important that you call even if the person concerned does not want you to make the call. Explain that you are making the call because you do not want him or her to die. Don't leave until assistance arrives.

Call 113

In acute risk of suicide, call 113 immediately. It is safer to call one time too many than one time too little.

What are signs of suicidal thoughts?

The reasons behind suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide are usually complex. For some people, suicidal thoughts are triggered by a personal crisis or depressive episode, and in some it is a long-term, recurrent problem.

What is giving you concern?

Perhaps the person you are worried about is struggling with a personal crisis? Have you noticed that he or she has started behaving differently?

You may have reason to be concerned if the person you are worried about:

  • withdraws from social interaction and spends a lot of time alone
  • is irritable and restless, and has trouble sitting still
  • is drinking more alcohol or taking more drugs than usual
  • is in pain physically or mentally
  • seems sad and low, and has seemed down for some time
  • has lost faith in the future
  • says life is not worth living
  • talks about being a burden and being worthless
  • is more preoccupied with death than usual
  • is take up with financial commitments, such as insurance, loans or their will

What should you do if you think someone is having suicidal thoughts?

Over the course of their lives, many people may have thoughts of suicide. For some, there may be thoughts that life is not worth living the way they are feeling, and for others there may be very specific thoughts about taking their own life. If those thoughts become too painful and intrusive, it is important to seek help.

Dare to care!

People with suicidal thoughts may feel trapped by their circumstances, and that there are no positive solutions to change this. If someone is that troubled, they may worry that they are a burden to others. This is why many people at risk do not do not share their thoughts with anyone.

If you know someone who you think might feel that way, it is important to ‘dare to care’ and take the initiative for talking about it.

Ask the person directly

Try to be direct and clear without accusing or judging. Show that you care and are concerned. Do not be afraid of saying the wrong thing, but try to listen more than you talk.

Listen and be open

Listening, daring to talk and showing support can be protective. Being heard and seen by others saves lives.

Seek assistance if needed

Try to get an idea of how acute the situation is. This may determine who you need to contact for help.

How to talk about suicidal thoughts

It can be difficult to broach the subject of suicidal thoughts. Many people are afraid that asking about suicidal thoughts might increase the risk of suicide. But that is not the case. There is nothing to suggest that conversations about suicidal thoughts are unsafe, or that they reinforce thoughts of suicide.

Tips for what to say

If you are worried about someone, tell them you are concerned in a plain and honest way. Here are some suggestions for how to ask someone directly:

  • You say you're done with everything. Does that mean you’ve thought about taking your own life?
  • I'm worried about you, I can tell you’re struggling. Are things so bad that you’ve had thoughts of taking your own life?
  • Do you think about suicide at times?
  • I’m saying this because I care about you – are you having suicidal thoughts?

Film om hva selvmordstanker er og hvordan man kan snakke med noen som har selvmordstanker.

Vivat Suicide Prevention has produced the educational video film “Asking about suicide”.

The video provides an introduction to recognising suicidal thoughts, asking about suicide and helping someone to seek professional help.

Watch the video with subtitles in English and Northern Sami here.

What should you do if someone tells you they have suicidal thoughts?

Take suicidal thoughts seriously

If someone tells you they have suicidal thoughts, take them seriously. The most important thing you can do is to be there for the person, listen to them, show you care and assist them in getting the right help.

Listen and be open

Listening is the most important thing you can do. The fact that someone chooses to share this with you shows they trust you, even though it may be painful to hear what they have to say. Let the person share their thoughts with you without interrupting too much.

Be there for them and provide support

Anyone who shares these thoughts with you is in great distress. People with suicidal thoughts tend to feel extremely lonely and lacking all hope. This is why you must take care not to be judgmental, but instead be patient, caring and supportive.

Show that you understand

Tell the person that you understand that the situation they are in is difficult and painful, but that suicide is not the solution.

Seek help

Urge the person to seek professional help, and actively assist them in arranging this kind of supportive care.

Someone in a severe crisis may not be able to cope with seeking help, or know who to turn to. Offer to accompany the person to their first appointment or suggest someone else who can come along. Try to get an idea of how critical the situation is. Contact the out-of-hours medical service or GP for advice and guidance if you are unsure.

Helping someone who has suicidal thoughts or is struggling mentally can be demanding. You therefore need to take good care of yourself and involve relatives and the health service.

Who should you contact for help?

Call 113 in case of acute suicide risk

If there is a risk of the person harming themselves or committing suicide, call 113 right away.

The emergency services will assist in such a situation, and they can also assist in finding out more about how serious the situation is.

In case of acute suicide risk, you should call 113 even if the person at risk doesn’t want you to. Explain that you do not want him or her to die, and do not leave until the emergency responders arrive.

Acute but not life-threatening situations

Contact the GP

In many cases, your GP is the one you should reach out to first. The GP can provide advice and information about various support services and treatment in the municipality, and they can send a referral to a psychologist or the specialist health service where this is needed.

Call the local out-of-hours healthcare service 116 117

If the problem is not immediately life-threatening, but still cannot wait until you can contact the GP during daytime hours, call the out-of-hours healthcare service on 116 117. The out-of-hours healthcare service is open 24/7.

The out-of-hours healthcare service also has a list of other relevant healthcare providers in the municipality who can help you.

Local support services

Several municipal health services can provide advice and guidance if you are concerned about someone you know who might be a suicide risk. You can contact the

  • school health service and youth health centre
  • local authority mental health and substance abuse services, including the clinical psychologist
  • RPH (Prompt Mental Health Care)
  • home-based services/care services
  • psychosocial crisis team

You can find contact details for these services on your local authority website.

Other people to reach out to

For some people, it may be easier to take the first step towards getting help by talking to a church minister, imam, or other trusted individual.