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Suicidal Thinking
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Introduction
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You may be looking at this page because you are feeling very distressed and thinking about suicide, or perhaps because you have a friend who may be in danger of harming themselves.

If you are thinking about suicide then you need to get help now. Talk to someone you trust, maybe a close friend or someone in your family. If nobody is around then look at the list of ‘Immediate help for yourself’ on this page and contact someone who can help.

You probably feel overwhelmed by your feelings and can’t see any way of making things better. It can be very hard to cope with feelings of shame, guilt, loneliness and hopelessness. At these times it’s impossible to think clearly and you really need to speak to someone.

The problems that lead to suicidal thinking are too complex and varied to address here - although some pointers may be found on our other Advice Pages such as Depression, Loneliness, Sexuality.

However what we can do is give clear guidance to immediate sources of help which are also listed on our Sources of Support Pages.

Immediate Help for Yourself
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  • You can always phone 999 in an emergency or make your way to any Accident and Emergency Department at your local hospital or the A+E at University College Hospital.
  • The Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 909090 at any time. Their service is confidential. Their website is www.samaritans.org.uk.
  • You could phone Nightline on 020 7631 0101. This is a student run service available in term-time between 6pm and 8am. Their website is www.nightline.org.uk.
  • If you are in College during term time and within Halls of Residence, there is a duty member of staff on call out of hours and each hall displays a notice with their contact details.
  • You can go to Gower Place Practice, 3 Gower Place, London WC1E 6BN, Tel: 0207 387 3645, where they can usually give you an appointment at extremely short notice at their walk in service on Monday to Fridays – 9.30 –10.30am and 2.30 –3.30pm. This service is confidential.
  • You can come to the Student Psychological Services, Ground Floor, 3 Taviton Street, WC1H 0BT, Tel: 020 7679 1487. We are open from Monday to Friday between 10am and 5pm. We have a number of weekly emergency appointments for students in immediate distress. The service is confidential (although they reserve the right to mobilise other help if someone's life or health is at immediate risk).
  • In addition to these services that maintain specific emergency cover, The Chaplain, Hall Wardens, Student Services Staff, Student Union Welfare Officers and Departmental Advisors and Tutors will all be willing to support you in times of difficulty or distress.
  • Elsewhere on this website there are helpful Advice Pages, as well as Support Pages that may address some of the issues that are troubling you.

Helping a Friend
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If a friend of yours is in distress and maybe even talking about harming himself or herself, we would suggest the following steps, sometimes summed up in the acronym COPE.

  • Be Caring - never ignore or take lightly a suggestion of suicide - research shows most people who attempt suicide normally tell someone else of their intentions first. Ask more and do not be afraid that talking about the threat will put ideas into the person's mind - it is more likely that they will appreciate being taken seriously. Encourage them to go with you to a comfortable and private environment to talk things over.
  • Be Optimistic - as explained above, most human problems can be solved with time, care and expert help no matter how hopeless they seem. You do not have to give up hope just because your friend has temporarily lost theirs. However, do not let your optimism lead you to dismiss or make light of the person's concerns.
  • Be Practical. Do not leave a person expressing serious self-harming intent alone, especially if the means of self-harm are at hand. Involve others - using the emergency services or any of the above if necessary. Be particularly vigilant if someone is drunk or under the influence of drugs, if they have made a suicide attempt in the past or if they have a clearly formulated plan. Do not however get drawn into making unrealistic long-term promises of ongoing support that you are unlikely to be able to keep.
  • Seek an Expert. If the person threatening suicide refuses to involve any of the sources of help listed above consider contacting one or more of these sources yourself in order to plan what steps can be taken to get support for your friend.

If you are dealing with someone who is suicidal, it is also important that you look after yourself and you may find it helpful to seek professional advice to discuss how the issues have affected you.

There are helpful Advice Pages, as well as Support Pages that may address some of the issues that are troubling someone contemplating suicide.

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