Mental health emergency - if you're in crisis or despair

If your mental or emotional state quickly gets worse, or you’re in crisis or despair, or you know someone who is, help is available. It's important to get help quickly. You’re not alone; talk to someone you trust. Sharing a problem is often the first step to recovery.

Help and support

Someone who’s having suicidal thoughts may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want help and support. It can be difficult finding the words to express what they are feeling.

If you're concerned about someone, you could:

  • show you care by asking saying something like: 'I’m worried about you and I want to help' or 'Whatever is bothering you we will get through this together'
  • discuss suicide – asking about it won’t put the idea in people’s heads. You could ask then: ‘Do you feel like harming yourself?’ or ‘Do you feel like ending your life?’
  • call for help and encourage them to look for help. You could say: ‘You are not alone and there are people who can help you out of this situation’ or ‘I will stay with you until you get help’

Recognising potential warning signs

Suicide prevention begins with recognising warning signs that someone may be considering taking their own life. The signs include:

  • talking about death or suicide
  • pre-occupation with death
  • depression
  • hopelessness
  • alcohol and drug misuse
  • low self-esteem
  • bereavement
  • break-up of a relationship
  • changes in behaviour
  • previous history of suicide attempts
  • self-loathing or self-hatred
  • getting affairs in order
  • social isolation
  • self-destructive behaviour
  • sudden sense of calm or appearing very up-beat following a period of depression

Don't avoid talking about suicide. Discussing suicide in an open, non-judgmental, sensitive, discreet and practical way can allow someone in crisis to know they aren't alone and help is available.

Your care plan

If you have a care plan, there are names and numbers to contant in an emergency. If you were or are being treated for a mental illness, you should have a care plan.

Where to go for help

If you don't have a care plan, or can't find it, you could:

  • make an emergency appointment with your doctor, or call your doctor's surgery out-of-hours service if the emergency is at night or the weekend
  • call your mental health worker if you have one
  • go to the accident and emergency department at your local hospital

Mental health crisis team

All local trust areas have a mental health crisis team. These teams are made up of psychiatric nurses, social workers and support workers. They:

  • carry out mental health assessments
  • provide support and short-term help until another team is available or the help is no longer needed

These teams can be accessed through your GP or GP out of hours service.

If you're caring for someone

If you're caring for someone, there are support services that can help. 

If there is an immediate danger, telephone the police on 999.

If you need someone to talk to

If you want to talk about how you feel or how you deal with someone else's behaviour, you can speak to a friend, family member or your GP.


If you or someone you know needs help now, you can telephone Lifeline free, in confidence, at any time:

Lifeline is a crisis response helpline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to people of all ages across Northern Ireland. It offers immediate help over the telephone if you, or someone you know, is in distress or despair.

Qualified counsellors answer all calls. They are available to listen, help and support your needs in confidence. They are experienced in dealing with different problems including:

  • self-harm
  • trauma
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • suicide
  • sexual violence and abuse

The Samaritans

The Samaritans offer a 24-hour telephone helpline:

  • telephone: 028 9066 4422 (local call charges apply)
  • National telephone:116 123 (this number is free to call)
  • textphone: 08457 90 91 92

You can also contact them by email or write to them.


If you're under 18 you can contact ChildLine:

More useful links

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