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What to do if you're having suicidal thoughts

If you're having suicidal thoughts, there's a wide range of support available. This page will help you look after yourself and find an appropriate person to talk to.

On this page:

 

Crisis support 

Crisis support and coronavirus (COVID-19)

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there is currently high demand on the NHS. This includes Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments in hospitals.

If you're experiencing a mental health crisis and are in immediate risk of seriously harming yourself, it is best to call 999 in the first instance for urgent help and advice before visiting A&E. An ambulance may be called for you if appropriate.

If you're at immediate risk of harming yourself (for example, if you've made a plan and are worried that you may act on it soon), then this is a crisis and you should go directly to the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department of your local hospital to get urgent help.

UCL Student Support and Wellbeing (including Student Psychological and Counselling Services) are not able to provide any kind of emergency or crisis support. 

UCLH has the nearest A&E department to UCL’s main campus - this A&E department has a dedicated mental health unit.

If you're unable to reach A&E yourself, call 999 to request an ambulance.

Find your nearest A&E department.

Time to talk

If you are feeling suicidal, the most important thing is to talk to someone.

Thoughts of suicide are common. Many adults will experience suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives. The feelings that drive suicide are often temporary and situation-specific, for instance, a stressful event associated with feelings of loss can trigger suicidal thoughts.

If you are going through a difficult period, you may feel isolated and disconnected from your personal support networks. You may also worry about the reaction and impact on those close to you if you share thoughts of suicide. It may feel awkward to start a conversation and there isn’t a right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings.

Starting the conversation is what’s important.

You may want to talk to a trusted family member, a friend, a colleague, a staff member in your department or hall of residence, UCL Student Support and Wellbeing services, your GP, or an external organisation dedicated to supporting people experiencing suicidal feelings. Further information on these sources of support is availble below. Professional support is available and it is easy to access.

It is important to remember that people care and will want to help.

Talking to someone in Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW)

There are various teams you can speak to within Student Support and Wellbeing based on your needs and circumstances.

Appointments

Our team of Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisers offer confidential and non-judgmental appointments. The advisers have a wealth of experience and skills including Mental Health First Aid and suicide prevention training. They will listen to you and seek to understand how you are feeling.

Our team can help you identify and access therapeutic and/or medical support, suggest adjustments to study and agree a safety plan with you. A safety plan is a personalised plan to support you step by step during periods when you're feeling suicidal (link above).

You can contact us through the askUCL student enquiries system.

Read more information about appointments.   

UCL Student Psychological and Counselling Services (SPCS)

For some students, psychological support such as talking therapies can help manage suicidal thoughts. UCL provides therapeutic support through Student Psychological and Counselling Services (SPCS), part of Student Support and Wellbeing. This service requires an online registration.

Talking therapies can also be accessed through your GP.

Read more information about our therapeutic support options on the SPCS website. 

Evening and weekend support over the phone and online

UCL students have access to free counselling services online and over the phone out of hours (from 5pm to 9am Monday to Friday and for 24 hours during weekends, bank holidays and UCL closure periods). No appointment is needed.

For telephone counselling call +44 (0)800 197 4510.

Read more information about evening and weekend support over the phone and online.

Wardens and Student Residence Advisers (SRAs)

If you're living in a hall of residence, you have an additional network of support in the form of SSW's Wardens and Student Residence Advisers (SRAs), who live on site. They are the first point of contact for any welfare or pastoral issues you may be experiencing and can help connect you to UCL’s student support services. They can call emergency services if you need them.

Read more information about Wardens and SRAs.

Talk to a support service outside UCL

Seeing your doctor (GP)

Your GP is the first point of contact for any issues affecting your physical and mental health, including suicidal thoughts. Your GP will also be able to diagnose a state of depression or anything in your lifestyle that may be contributing to how you may be feeling. This is not always the case, but suicidal thoughts can be linked to depression and the use of alcohol and drugs.

Your GP can also refer you to further specialist support and talking therapies, and can prescribe medication. Mind have some useful tips to support you in having that first conversation with your doctor.

If your GP surgery isn't open or if you're not registered at a GP surgery, call the free NHS out-of-hours medical line on 111 and they will help you access the right services in your area.

External support organisations 

There are a number of external services that may be able to help if you are feeling distressed and/or are concerned about managing suicidal thoughts. 

Samaritans 

The Samaritans offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like about whatever’s getting to you. They can help you explore your options, understand your problems better, or they can just be there to listen. You can call the Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You don’t have to be suicidal to call.

You can also visit the Samaritans in branch to talk to a volunteer face to face if you find it easier.

Samaritans and coronavirus (COVID-19)

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, some Samaritans branches are currently unable to see visitors face to face, but continue to provide support via phone and email. If you wish to attend a face to face meeting, please check the Samaritans website before you leave.

Nightline

Nightline is an out-of-hours listening service run by students, for students. Their advisers are students themselves who have had extensive training to help them support their peers.

You can speak to someone from Nightline over the phone at any time from 6pm to 8am every night of term. They also offer support online, through text and through email.

Nightline and coronavirus (COVID-19)

Please note that in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Nightline has currently suspended its phone service. Its email, instant messaging and text services continue to be available from 6pm to 2am every night.

HOPELINEUK

The free HOPELINEUK service is similar to the Samaritans but specifically for people under 35 who are feeling suicidal.

They will also give advice if you are worried about someone else with suicidal thoughts.

Open 9am to 10pm on weekdays, 2pm to 10pm on weekends and bank holidays.

Maytree

Maytree is a charity that provides support by offering a one-off residential stay when in a suicidal crisis. Volunteers at Maytree are available to talk to throughout a stay - this is not a centre for therapeutic support, but a place of sanctuary in a crisis.

For more information on the support that Maytree can provide, visit their website, where you can also see how to contact them if you need support. Alternatively, contact the Student Support and Wellbeing team.

CALM - Campaign Against Living Miserably

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against male suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. 

Their helpline is for men in the UK who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support. They're open 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year. 

Look after yourself

There are a number of ways you can look after yourself if you are feeling suicidal. Firstly, you can save emergency phone numbers and what to do when you are feeling suicidal in a safety plan (link above). It can be helpful to complete the safety plan together with one of our Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisers at a drop-in session or appointment.

Try to be around friends or family if you can. If this is not possible, aim to get to a safe place and call them.

You may also choose to call a helpline, such as one of those listed above, for support. Most of these are available out of hours. 

Try to not consume drugs or alcohol - these can have a substantial negative effect on mental health and wellbeing.

Do things you enjoy, such as listening to music, exercising, or watching a favourite TV show in order to distract yourself and take your mind off your thoughts.  

Find out more about resources that may help if you're feeling suicidal.