Preventing suicide in the legal community

This year’s World Mental Health Day (10 October) focuses on suicide prevention.
Man looking out of window
611903710 Photograph: NICOLAS MCCOMBER

Suicide remains something of a taboo, especially in professional circles.

We need to encourage a more open culture in the law where people talk about their feelings and ask for help.

If you’re worried about someone you work with or a friend or family member, you should always attempt to talk to them.

It’s absolutely not the case that asking about suicide precipitates the action of suicide. Rather it shows the person you genuinely care, are interested in their welfare and want to help.

Talking could make a real difference.

Signs to look out for in yourself or others

These are not exhaustive, and some people will show no significant signs:

  • changes in behaviour – mood swings, sleeping/eating patterns, becoming angry, negative, depressed
  • out of character reckless behaviour – giving away all possessions, increased use of drugs or alcohol, excessive spending
  • social withdrawal
  • lack of energy
  • neglecting grooming and personal hygiene
  • suddenly appearing very calm or relieved after a period of depression
  • settling affairs and saying goodbye
  • talking about suicide or dying

How to have a conversation with someone you believe to be suicidal

  • Ask directly – have you thought about suicide?
  • Use simple, direct questions in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way
  • Listen to the response
  • Keep talking to the person telling them they’re not alone and you want to help
  • Follow your instinct
  • Ask if you can assist them to access help and support by calling a family member, the emergency services, a helpline or their GP
  • If you believe there’s an immediate risk, do not leave the person alone if you’re in the same room, but be mindful of your own safety
  • If you’re talking to them on the phone, use another phone to let the police know

If you have thought of suicide

  • Talk to someone – a friend, your GP, a helpline
  • Be around other people
  • Go to a safe place – a friend's house or a Samaritans drop-in centre
  • Try not to think about the future – just focus on getting through today
  • Remember drugs and alcohol are not a solution and may make you feel worse
  • Do something you usually enjoy

Call LawCare’s free, independent, confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888 for immediate support for yourself or visit the Lawcare website to access webchat, email support and useful factsheets and information.

You can also contact us if you’re worried about a colleague and are unsure how to support them.


Samaritans – for everyone

Call: 116 123

Open 24 hours

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men

Call: 0800 58 58 58

Opening hours: 5pm to midnight every day

Papyrus – for people under 35

Call: 0800 068 4141

Opening hours: 9am to 10pm weekdays, 2pm to 10pm weekends

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide

Call: 0300 111 5065

Opening hours: 9am to 9pm, Monday to Friday

Suicide Bereaved Network

Call: 0300 999 0003

Opening hours: 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

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