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Tuesday, 15th September 2020

Pieta urges people to know the signs of suicide

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The suicide prevention charity Pieta has answered over 10,000 calls to its helpline relating to suicide, self-harm and suicide bereavement in the last six months.

 That stark statistic is one of the reasons it is launching a new public awareness campaign called ‘Signs of Suicide’ to help people identify what signs to watch and listen out for if someone they know is considering taking their own life.

In Ireland, the overall suicide rate for males is three times higher than for females. When a loved-one or friend is behaving in a worrying way, it is difficult to know how to help them. Pieta is urging everyone to know the ’Signs of Suicide’ when someone is considering taking their own life, so that you can help your loved one to move away from suicide, and towards hope.

Most people who talk about suicide do not want to die. They simply want to stop the pain they feel. Knowing what signs to listen and watch out for is crucial:

Signs to listen for:

  • Talking or writing about hurting themselves, dying or saying that they want to die
  • Talking about ways to die or having a suicide plan
  • Saying that they are ‘trapped’ or have no options in their life
  • Saying they have no purpose in their life, that they feel hopeless.

Signs to watch out for:

  • Engaging in self-harm or reckless, risk taking behaviour
  • Giving items away or saying goodbye to people
  • Becoming more inward looking and withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changes in their sleep patterns – too much or too little sleep
  • Extreme emotions or dramatic changes in mood
  • Increasing their use of drugs or alcohol.

When you know the signs, you can follow three simple steps, A.P.R. (Ask – Persuade – Refer) – and just like CPR, it can save a life.

If someone opens up to you, don’t be afraid to Ask them directly if they are thinking of suicide or want to kill themselves. Talking to them openly and honestly is one of the best things you can do. Even just listening is one of the most powerful tools available to us.

Once you have asked the question, calmly and gently Persuade them to seek help or to allow you to assist them in getting help. If you cannot persuade them, remember that Pieta’s 24/7 Crisis Helpline is open 24 hours day. As soon as you can, Refer or guide them to Pieta – if you can, make the call with them or travel with them to the appointment.

Pieta’s Clinical Director, Dr. Samuel Gower, said; "There are often times where families speak to us following suicide bereavement, wishing they had known what to look out for or what to say. It is so important for people to know these signs, and to never be afraid to reach out to a loved one and start the conversation if they think they are struggling with suicidal thoughts.”

Contact Pieta:

For more information on Pieta services, which are free of charge, please visit 

For 24/7 support if you are suicidal, self-harming or bereaved call the Freephone crisis helpline on 1800 247 247, or text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply).

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