Support for people experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts

This information has been compiled for those participating in the UCL Accessing Support Study. It outlines support services for people who might feel at risk of self harm.

Important reminder: Inclusion of an organisation in this list does not guarantee that they will have a solution to your particular problem. Please be aware that information provided on internet sites may not always be reliable and particular caution must be taken when consulting sites claiming to offer medical or pharmacological advice

Emergency help is available from the following sources:

  • Emergency services number: dial 999 or 111 for free in the UK
  • NHS Direct: dial 0845 46 47 for health advice and reassurance or visit the NHS Direct website. 
  • Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department: use the NHS Choices site to locate your nearest NHS hospital with an A&E department.

Other sources of help: 

  • General practitioner (GP): You could make an appointment to see your GP or family doctor, or another member of the practice staff. 
  • Family or friends: You may consider approaching a trusted friend or family member to tell them you are in need of support.
  • Written material: Three leaflets have been produced by Connecting with People, a suicide awareness and prevention package, as part of a range of practical and compassionate self-help resources. These are available to anyone in need of advice and support:

  • Feeling Overwhelmed - helping you stay safe - for anyone struggling to cope when bad things happen in their life
  • U Can Cope! How to cope when life is difficult - designed to help young people and adults develop resilience and cope with any current/future difficulties in their lives
  • Feeling on the Edge? Helping you get through it - for people in distress attending the Emergency Department following self-harm or with suicidal thoughts
  • Short film: The U Can Cope short film, also produced by Connecting with People, focuses on three people for whom life had become unbearable but who, after seeking help, are now leading happy lives. The film promotes 3 main messages:

    1. anyone can experience suicidal thoughts
    2. there is always hope
    3. there is always help

Voluntary organisations

You may consider contacting one of the voluntary organisations listed below.


Samaritans provides confidential non-judgmental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide. They offer support via telephone (08457 90 90 90 in the UK), email (jo@samaritans.org), or by using their website to find your nearest UK or RoI branch


PAPYRUS is committed to the prevention of young suicide and the promotion of mental health and emotional wellbeing. Their national confidential helpline is for people under the age of 35 (HOPELineUK 0800 068 4141). This offers practical advice on suicide prevention and support for young people who may be at risk of suicide, as well as those who live or work with them. Lines are open on Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm and 7pm to 10pm, and at weekends from 2pm to 5pm.