Starting a Conversation About Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

In today’s fast-paced world, discussing mental health and suicide prevention has never been more important. Yet, broaching this subject can feel very daunting, especially if it involves confronting your close family or friends. Whether it is fear of judgment, not knowing the right words, or worrying about making things worse, these concerns often keep us silent.

But silence is not the solution. Breaking the silence is where healing can begin for that friend or family member. And it all starts with a conversation.


Understanding the Importance of Talking About Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Conversations about mental health are so important. They have the power to break down barriers, foster understanding, and build connections that support healing.

Starting conversations can also improve the recognition of early signs and lead to earlier treatment.

But how do we start these conversations? How do we turn our good intentions into actions that can truly make a difference in someone’s life? Here are some gentle, yet effective, ways to open up a conversation about mental health. Your goal should be to create a space where vulnerability is met with empathy and understanding, and then to follow-up with support and resources.


Choose the Right Moment

Timing is crucial. Find a quiet, private moment between you and the person you’re reaching out to. This ensures that the conversation gets the attention and sensitivity it deserves.


Lead with Empathy

This part can be hard, but it is important to begin the conversation with empathy. Remember each and every experience with mental health is unique. Therefore, it is important to avoid making assumptions about what someone is going through. Include expressions that are heartfelt and genuine to show that you care. This goal is to provide a space where the other person feels comfortable to open up.



Practice active listening – giving that person your full attention, without judgment, and allowing them the space to share their thoughts and feelings. Ask open-ended questions that encourage the person to share their own experiences. Sometimes, being heard is the first step that someone needs to then take the appropriate steps to their health and safety.


Provide Information and Resources

It is crucial to follow-up your conversation with mental health and suicide prevention support and resources for the person. This could include pointing them in the direction of qualified healthcare professionals or support groups.

If the person is experiencing suicidal thoughts, get them connected with a 24/7 prevention line.

Providing resources in this way shows that you are committed to being a part of their support system and that you are a trustworthy person with whom they can continue having discussions.


Follow Up

Follow-up with the person, as continued support is often necessary. Following up shows that your concern is part of your ongoing commitment to their healing journey.


What is 988?

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline is a national phone line for individuals in crisis. It also provides 24/7 chat and text response options to accommodate those individuals who are more accustomed and comfortable with digital resources.

The REAL Crisis Center in North Carolina is the call center for this lifeline. If you are in North Carolina, contact us to determine how we can support you and your family and friends in need.



Starting a conversation about mental health and suicide prevention is a step towards understanding, empathy, and support. It’s not about saying the perfect thing, but rather about opening up and offering a listening ear. One of the most powerful benefits of starting conversations is that it can dispel myths and reduce stigma around mental health and suicide.