Supporting someone in crisis

It can be daunting to know what to do or say when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. To help you navigate this conversation, we have developed the CLASS approach: a 5-step guide to supporting someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts.

If you're worried that someone is in immediate danger of hurting themselves or others, the quickest way to get help is to call the emergency services.

C = Connect

Firstly, connect with the person you are concerned about. Make time to ask how they’re doing and show empathy, care and concern. Remember to ask twice - often the automatic response to the question "how are you?" is "yes I'm fine" - even when you're not.

If you're not sure what to say, try using these phrases:

I’ve noticed you’ve not been yourself. Is everything okay?

I’m glad you’ve told me – it must have been difficult going through it on your own.

These feelings are only temporary – we can get through this moment together.

Now might not be a good time to make a big decision.

Let’s take a step back and consider the other options.

Have you thought about... (e.g. calling the Samaritans)? Should we make a plan together?

L = Listen

Allow them time to talk things through and listen to what’s being said. Your role is not to solve the problem or offer advice, but to really listen and show you care. Facilitate the conversation rather than leading it, and try not to minimise their feelings by comparing their experiences to others.

A = Assess

When a person is feeling suicidal, we need to assess the situation carefully. Establish if they have any intentions or have made any plans or preparations to end their life. Encourage them to think of the things that make life worth living (these are known as protective factors).

If the person has made plans or preparations, and cannot identify any protective factors, you need to act quickly. Let them know you're concerned for their safety and encourage them to call 999 (or call on their behalf). Continue talking to them until the ambulance arrives.

S = Support

Make it clear that you’re there to help and they are not a burden to you. Explore what support they already have and ways they can keep themselves safe. Remember, finding a way forward should always be collaborative.

S = Signpost

If you haven't already, connect them with services so they can access timely support. Main points of contact include their GP or confidential helplines (find a crisis helpline where you are via our Global Signposting Directory). Make a plan together about the actions they are going to take.

Here are a few examples of helplines available in the UK:



Opening hours

Samaritans 116 123 Available 24/7
SHOUT Text Service Text 'SHOUT' to 85258 Available 24/7
PAPYRUS 0800 068 4141 Weekdays 10am-10pm Weekends 2pm-10pm

For more information on suicide and how to reduce the risk, you can download our World Suicide Prevention Day guide.

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