Preventing suicide in the legal community
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
Call: 0300 111 5065
Opening hours: 9am to 9pm, Monday to Friday
Call: 0300 999 0003
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday